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de Blasio gives nod to Cuomo as city ramps up reopening plan

Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a round-about nod to Governor Andrew Cuomo today as he unveiled New York City’s roadmap to reopening as the coronavirus goes into remission.

“I really give a lot of credit to the State of New York for a clear articulation of what is, what are the industries that are part of phase one, and then how each industry should think about the practicalities of reopening,” said de Blasio, whose history with the governor has been notoriously prickly.

The city will begin rolling out Phase 1 of its reopening “the first or second week of June” and de Blasio told reporters at his daily briefing today that he was confident New Yorkers were showing “a lot of willingness to work with the rules.”

Construction, manufacturing and wholesale work will be the first sectors to restart, along with non-essential retail such as clothing stores, office supply stores, furniture stores. All retail will be restricted to curbside pickup or in-store pickup.

While restaurants and bars are not part of the Phase 1 reopening, de Blasio said the city is focused on efforts to create more outdoor space as part of the solution to maintain social distancing.

According to the mayor, not all Phase 1 employers will resume operations with a full staff and some plan to continue to operate remotely. A minimum of 200,000 New Yorkers are expected to return to work and all of them will be asked to make social distancing a part of their new work life.

“There may be moments where people have to come closer together. Sometimes it’s just the nature of the job, but the goal is as much as possible, keep people six feet apart,” said de Blasio.

Building occupancy is to be kept at 50 percent below capacity for Phase 1 and every employer must provide their employees with a free face mask and conduct daily healthcare screening.

“Absolutely crucial,” said the Mayor, “lots of information, putting up signage, constant updates, making sure that employees are reminded of the rules. All of that, that constant showing people exactly how it works is part of what makes this work for everyday working people.

“We’re all going to learn together. Our business community is extraordinary in this city when you’re talking a mom and pop store, bodega, right on up to the biggest businesses. One thing businesses do is they adapt, they create, they move with the times, they move with new conditions. So, I am convinced our business community will work it out.”

de Blasio is set to meet with MTA boss Pat Foye to hash out back-to-work transportation protocols.

The city is working with the MTA as part of an effort to get people back to using mass transit. “Some people are going to be comfortable mass transit, some are not,” said de Blasio, “But that’s a short-term reality. The long-term future of this city is with a devotion to more and more mass transit. We’re still going to have to figure out how to limit the number of people in any specific subway car and any specific bus and we’re working with the MTA on what’s it going to take to do that.”

The city is also preparing new industry guides for each sector and how it can get its business up and running while abiding by the new rules, as well as a fully-staffed business hotline starting next week.

A team of small business advocates and compliance advisors will be tasked with monitoring the phased re-opening and the sector advisory councils set up at the height of the pandemic will provide feedback on what’s working and what’s not within their various industries.

Companies that repeatedly flout the rules will be fined. “If we don’t see compliance, of course we reserve the right if we need to use fines, if we need to take even more aggressive actions we can,” said the mayor.

“That’s not what we want to do, we just want to solve problems. We just want to get these businesses up and running. We want to protect health and safety and we can do that together, the right way, that is absolutely the goal and I believe overwhelmingly that’s going to be what will happen.”

The city’s current plan is to re-open schools September 10 if the virus continues to recede.

Current COVID-19 numbers show 59 New Yorkers were admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms May 28 while the percentage of the people tested citywide positive for COVID-19 was six percent. According to the mayor, the city is currently conducting 27,000 tests per day.

For business specific information on the phased reopening, visit ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase.

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