NYC enters reopening phase 4

New York, July 21 (IANS) New York City entered phase four of reopening without resuming additional indoor activities, as local officials were concerned about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections brought here from new hotspots across the country.

In the final phase of New York state's reopening plan, lower risk outdoor arts and entertainment activities, such as television and film production, were allowed to resume from Monday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Botanical gardens and zoos can reopen at 33 per cent capacity.

The Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty is located also reopened, while the interior of the statue and the museum remain closed to the public.

The Empire State Building Observatory on the 86th and 102nd floors reopened with 60 per cent capacity, according to the Empire State Realty Trust.

Unlike other phase four regions in the state, indoor entertainment and cultural venues such as malls and museums will remain shut in New York City due to the heightened risk of infection.

The resumption of indoor dining has also been postponed, and the city launched the Open Restaurants program earlier this month, allowing restaurants to serve customers on the city's Open Streets with no access to vehicles during weekends.

Public schools across the state are expected to reopen in fall, but state and city officials are still finalizing specific measures to ensure the safety of teachers and students.

Last week, state Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new guidance on reopening schools which mandates that schools can reopen only when the region's daily infection rate remains below 5 per cent, using a 14-day average.

If the rate rises above 9 per cent, using a seven-day average, after August 1, schools will close.

At the city level, Mayor Bill de Blasio has revealed three models that would put students in different groups for in-person instruction, and each group would spend two or three days in school every week.

While the students are not in class, they will continue with remote learning.

New York City reported 218,478 COVID-19 cases by Monday afternoon, with a death toll of 23,411, according to the city's health department.

Though New York state as a whole has bent the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic with infection rate down to around 1 per cent in past weeks, the rapid rise in cases in southern and western US states presents a risk of a second wave to New York.

To reduce the risk to a minimum, the state government has dispatched enforcement teams to airports to check arriving passengers from states with high COVID-19 infection rates while requesting a completed form with their contact information.

Travellers who leave the airport without handing in the form will be subject to a $2,000 fine and even a mandatory quarantine.

The governor also urged New Yorkers to stay on high alert.

“You can get sick in your 20s. You can die in your 20s. Even if you live by the theory you're a superhero, you will go home and you will transfer it to someone else,” said Cuomo on Monday at his briefing.

Mayor de Blasio on Monday also called the non-compliance of safety guidelines “unacceptable”, saying there will be “heavier enforcement efforts” around bars and restaurants.



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