New York City is poised to enter phase three of the reopening plan on Monday, July 6th, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Technically, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said only he can give the go-ahead on when regions can move on to the next phase. But de Blasio opened his press conference on Thursday with the news that the city was "on track" for phase three.
"The data is telling us 'yes' right now," he said, adding that he was consulting with the state.
Indoor dining with up to 50 percent capacity will be permitted at bars and restaurants as along as tables are spaced at least six feet apart. With the start of phase 2 on Monday, restaurants were allowed to offer outdoor dining for the first time since the shutdown. More than 4,100 establishments have undergone the city's self-certification process to provide table service on sidewalks and curbside parking spaces.
Additional personal care services, including nail salons, massage parlors, spas and tanning salons, can also reopen in Phase 3 at 50 percent of the maximum occupancy. All businesses must adhere to the state's safety guidelines, which include wearing masks and social distancing as much as possible.
Phase 3 would also introduce sports and recreation into the fold of permitted activities, including basketball, tennis and volleyball courts as well as soccer fields. It would also mark the return of dog runs, an amenity that city's pet owners have argued should have already been open since playgrounds are now open.
“Our parks are hubs for active recreation and we’re excited to welcome all New Yorkers, both human and canine alike, back onto sports courts and dog runs for another safe and fun summer,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, in a statement. “We’re committed to maintaining safe green spaces for all to enjoy and encourage visitors to wear a face covering, frequently sanitize their hands, and maintain distance between each other while out in parks.”
In addition, gatherings of 25 people will be allowed, up from 10 previously.
New York City, which was the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, has lagged behind the rest of the state in reopening. Westchester, Rockland and other counties in the Mid-Hudson Region entered phase 3 on Tuesday, while Long Island began the third phase on Wednesday. Five other regions—the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley and North Country—will enter phase 4 on Friday.
Phase 4 had been set to be the last stage, but Cuomo reversed his decision on allowing malls, movie theaters and gyms to reopen, saying state health officials needed more time to study the impact of air circulation on the spread of the disease.
On Thursday, Cuomo said that the number of hospitalizations were below 1,000, the first time since March 18. More than 18,000 were hospitalized during the peak in April.
In New York City, the number of new hospitalizations for suspected COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the most recently available data, was 60. The infection rate has remained steady at 2 percent since June 15th.