The city is the last part of New York State to enter phase one of the reopening process, having finally met the state’s seven required metrics for doing so. Among them are a decline in hospitalisations and hospital deaths, a minimum of 30 percent of intensive care beds available, and having 30 working contract tracers per 100,000 people.
Under the new rules, some construction and manufacturing activity will be allowed to resume, as will some non-essential retail, albeit in the form of curbside pickup and drop-off services.
Phase two will allow other businesses to reopen, including offices and hair salons; however, they will only be allowed to do so provided they can fulfil social distancing requirements. Much of the rest of the state has already moved on to that stage, but New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, says he does not expect his city to do so until July.
Some businesses have also been set back in recent days by the protests over the death of George Floyd at a policeman’s knee. A curfew had to be imposed after some protesters damaged property, including numerous storefronts; some even looted stores of their merchandise. A curfew was imposed after the rioting broke out and protesters were met with police violence.
The US’s worst-hit city of the coronavirus outbreak so far, New York has recorded 207,000 cases of Covid-19 and nearly 17,000 deaths. Images of the city surreally empty during lockdown have provided some of the most memorable visual records of the pandemic’s impact, along with footage of hospitals struggling to manage the influx of patients and using trucks as temporary morgues.
Another feature of New York’s outbreak has been the rising profile of governor Andrew Cuomo, who early on became a constant feature on national TV with his daily briefings about the outbreak’s progress. He also sparred with Donald Trump over his state’s effort to counter the virus, including his call for tens of thousands of ventilators.