New York City has closed all public schools through at least April 20, and potentially through the rest of the school year due to coronavirus concerns. And starting Tuesday, bars, restaurants and cafés will be closed to dine-in customers, only allowing take-out and delivery orders.
Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio has made it clear this may not be the end of restrictions to New Yorkers.
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“Everything’s on the table,” he said speaking on the potential for a city curfew or travel limits like road and bridge closures. The mayor pointed out that his emergency powers do grant him the ability to make such calls, but that he hasn’t reached that point as of Monday morning.
The mayor says the city is assessing things day-by-day and hour-by-hour.
“This is a never-ending agenda,” he told NY1. “There’s only work for us.”
The mayor’s announcement to close schools came with hesitance; with it follows challenges to ensure students can continue education, childcare is handled, and children relying on schools for food get meals.
He also struggled with intensifying panic and loss of income with this choice, but deemed it necessary. He added that efforts by the House of Representatives helped affirm his decision.
“On Friday we saw the House passed a stimulus bill, which is the beginning of getting relief to New Yorkers. We need a whole lot more than that from the federal government, but at least it showed me that something was starting to change, and that gave us a little more freedom to take such a crucial step—it’s very painful though,” de Blasio said.
The mayor says for the remainder of the week teachers will be trained to educate remotely, and students will begin virtual learning starting Monday, March 23. Kids in need of equipment will be provided tools like laptops and tablets.
Schools will be open for breakfast and lunch pickups, and some childcare will be provided, specifically for children of essential workers like those in healthcare.
For restaurants and eateries, the mayor says he understands this move hurts businesses, but they can still offer food so long as customers do not dine in the facility.
“Let’s face it, this is the eating-out capital of America—there’s a lot of people who depend on those places,” he said.
He also said the restaurant industry may play a larger role in helping to provide meals to those in need.
Additionaly, the city will close nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues. It has already suspended the operations of larger venues.
While the city is taking many aggressive measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, it still needs help, says the mayor.
“This is a war footing--we’re not used to this” de Blasio said describing its latest restrictions. He called on the federal government for more assistance, saying the city will need members of its workforce--like transit and healthcare employees--in ways it’s never needed them before.
He wants to ensure they’re properly supported.
To avoid misinformation, the mayor named three ways for New Yorkers to get credible updates and information: dialing 311, visiting nyc.gov/coronavirus, or by texting COVID to 692692.