(CBS) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that New York City is on track to begin to reopen on June 8, a huge milestone for the city that had been the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, Cuomo said five upstate regions will move ahead with the next phase of reopening.
“Remember that reopening does mean we are going back to the way things were,” Cuomo said. “Life is not about going back, nobody goes back, we go forward. And it’s going to be different. It is reopening to a new normal, a safer normal. People will be wearing masks, people will be socially distant.”
Cuomo said New York City is on track to meet all seven metrics he has created for reopening, including hospitals at or below 70% capacity, a supply of PPE and capacity for testing and contract tracing.
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Cuomo said up to 400,000 people could be returning to work in construction and manufacturing, and that retail business can open with curbside pickup.
Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said they would be spending the next week making sure places slated to reopen are ready. De Blasio said they would be going to businesses and providing them with free face coverings and a hotline where any employer could call about practical questions.
Cuomo said the public transit system is preparing to expand service as well. Earlier this month, Cuomo took the unprecedented step of reducing the subway’s famed 24-hour service by shutting it down at night to disinfect the trains.
Earlier Friday, de Blasio said “people are going to have to improvise” as many commuters are worried about packed subways.
“In the short term if people are going to use cars because that’s what going to make them comfortable, then they are going to use cars,” de Blasio said during a morning press conference.
Meanwhile, Cuomo announced the five upstate regions that reopened two weeks ago under Phase 1 can now move on to Phase 2. Those regions are the Finger Lakes (including Rochester), Mohawk Valley (including Utica), Central New York (including Syracuse), Southern Tier and North Country.
Under Phase 2, all office-based jobs can reopen with 50% capacity.. In-store shopping can return at 50% capacity and employees must wear face masks, but malls will remain closed. Real estate services can reopen. Hair salons and barber shops can also reopen with restrictions: They will be appointment only and employees must be tested every two weeks.
Phase 2 reopening, Cuomo said, is “not just reopening the doors and everybody has a party.”
Friday marked the 90th day of the coronavirus crisis in New York. Cuomo gave Friday’s update in New Rochelle, an early hotspot where a cluster of cases were diagnosed at the beginning of the outbreak.