Monday marks a crucial milestone for New York City as it cautiously reopens.
“We've seen consistent progress," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "And it's time to say to everyone getting ready for Phase Two. Get on your mark, get set, because here we go. On Monday, we'll be ready to take a big step forward for this city.”
Phase Two is set to begin, meaning New Yorkers can return to offices, shop in retail stores, and make appointments at hair salons and barbershops, and, key for a city priding itself as a culinary capital in the world, restaurants can again host diners, though they must do so outside.
“Look across the communities of this city, the neighborhoods," said de Blasio. "So many of the restaurants reflect our culture, our humanity, our creativity. This is the identity of New York City.”
Eateries can create seating in their backyards and patios, on sidewalks, in curb lanes where cars now park, in streets closed off to car traffic, and in nearby plazas.
Open Streets and plaza dining will be overseen by the Department of Transportation and business improvement groups.
Self-certification forms for sidewalk and curb seating can be filled out online starting Friday.
De Blasio spoke to how restaurants have struggled since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.
“They've been going through so much in these months," he said. "Just trying to figure out could they keep their businesses alive long enough for things to move forward, and their customers to come back.”
The start of Phase Two also means the reopening of playgrounds, where social-distancing monitors will be in place.
Team sports, such as soccer and basketball, are still not permitted.
De Blasio stressed the need for continued compliance and diligence when it comes to social distancing and wearing face masks.
On Wednesday, the mayor had been hesitant to commit to a start date for Phase Two even as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced it would begin on Monday.
On Thursday, after de Blasio delivered the news that Phase Two was set for Monday, Cuomo said: “All the indications are good. You’ll get a final announcement tomorrow.”
A de Blasio spokeswoman said the two officials are agreed that Phase Two is set to go ahead Monday, but they’ll monitor COVID-19 indicators until then.
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