Mayor Bill de Blasio said indoor dining and gyms will likely close in the next two weeks as part of new restrictions coming down from the governor’s office amidst rising coronavirus infection cases in the city.
On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the city could soon entirely be deemed an ‘orange zone’ if the rolling coronavirus infection rate in the city, as measured by the state, hits 3%. The state’s seven-day rate for the city was 2.5% on Wednesday, while the city’s measure was 3.0%. On Thursday, the city’s measure rose to 3.01%.
“The orange zone rules are clear and New York City will before long be in that ‘orange zone’ status,” the mayor said at his daily press briefing on Thursday. “And that means those restrictions are coming."
Those restrictions will likely be implemented in the next week or two and “a lot of tough choices” are going to be made across the board, which will impact various parts of the city, according to the mayor.
This news comes on the heels of the city's decision to stop all in-person learning. Roughly 300,000 students who were participating in the blended learning model, which combines remote learning with in-person instruction, have now switched to fully-remote learning.
While the mayor assured parents and students that this closure would be temporary, he did not reveal what the reopening guidelines for schools would look like.
"Our focus was on getting our schools up and running, unlike any of the large urban school systems in America," he said, referencing the city's work to put together guidelines. "[Our focus] was making them safe, supporting our kids and families. That's where we've been putting our time and energy.
The new reopening guidelines will be finalized and disclosed within the next few days, he said.
Part of those guidelines will include testing, which is why the mayor urged parents to sign testing consent forms for their children.
The mayor and governor have come under fire recently for conflicting messages around safety guidelines and city closures, including yesterday's announcement to shut down schools.
De Blasio's press briefing on Wednesday announcing the shutdown of schools came five hours later than its intended start time. In the meantime, Gov. Cuomo held a separate press conference where he revealed state coronavirus numbers that were slightly off from the city's numbers that de Blasio presented later that day.
What's more, the state's map of areas with rising infection rates follow a yellow, orange and red system. The city originally came up with zip code-specific designations for those regions.
"The zip code information we provide still has a lot of value because it's directing where we're sending testing, where we’re sending outreach," the mayor said on Thursday. "We still have a lot of ability to hopefully combat problems neighborhood by neighborhood."
While the mayor said NYC turning entirely into an 'orange zone' is "not a matter of if, but when," he rejected the idea that eventually turning into a 'red zone,' which would result in a shutdown, was a foregone conclusion.