Mayor de Blasio Adds the Shut-Down of Non-Essential Businesses to Cuomo's School Closures in Affected Areas
by Yehudit Garmaise
Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier today that he was only shutting down schools in the areas of the state and of New York City that are currently experiencing COVID surges, Mayor Bill de Blasio later said that he would like to also shut down non-essential businesses on Wednesday in the recent COVID hotspots for two to four weeks.
The length of the shutdowns will be determined by the compliance of the neighborhoods and how quickly the COVID positivity rates of the affected neighborhoods stabilize under 3% for seven consecutive days, which the mayor said, “is a really clear indicator [that the uptick has reversed itself.]
Although some New York City residents may consider de Blasio’s proposed restrictions as extreme, the mayor said that the city has been using the same protective measures to successfully bring down COVID rates in the entire city since March.
For instance, in recent months, when the city saw similar substantial COVID upticks in Sunset Park, Soundview, the Bronx, and southeast Queens, Mayor de Blasio took the same approaches that he is now again proposing, which was to increase testing, apply more educational outreach, provide more free mask distribution, and apply more enforcement, such as giving people who aren’t wearing masks low-key opportunities to wear masks. People are only ticketed and fined, the mayor said, only after they refuse to wear masks when provided with them.
“[By using those tactics], we turned those upticks around very quickly,” said De Blasio, who explained that the city was applying the same measures first in Boro Park in Brooklyn, then in Far Rockaway, at first with some success until the recent COVID surges, unfortunately, returned upward.
“Although in an earlier press conference today, Gov. Cuomo derided the city’s efforts toward enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing, the mayor pointed out that last week, he had 1,000 city workers, including police officers and city health workers, out on the streets in the affected areas educating people, handing out masks, and enforcing the safety protocols.
Unfortunately, now, de Blasio said, the COVID surges in the nine affected zip codes have passed the point of outreach and enforcement.
“Restrictions are now called for to save lives,” the mayor said emphatically. “We must take much more rigorous action.”
Although the mayor acknowledged that “it is going to take intense effort by all New Yorkers” to again suppress the coronavirus, he insisted that the city must again return to the tools that have been working in different communities since last spring.
“We want to emphasize: we are all in this together,” the mayor said
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.
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