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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the city will begin “Phase 1” of its reopening in early to mid-June, making it the last part of the state to reopen after the coronavirus lockdowns.
De Blasio, during his daily press conference Thursday, said that New York City is “now in a position to start opening things up phase by phase.”
“I’ve been cautious,” de Blasio said Thursday, noting he’s been focused on “health and safety, and how and when to take steps to start” reopening.”
De Blasio, though, warned that when he says “restart,” he does not mean ”rushing back to something normal.”
“It’s not just flicking a switch,” de Blasio said, noting that he is working to “make sure” that the city can “avoid a resurgence.”
De Blasio did not offer a specific date for the reopening of New York City, but said that “based on what we know today,” the reopening will begin “in the first or second week of June.”
De Blasio did say, however, that the city is launching an initiative next week for companies that are considered “Phase 1 companies” to help them navigate the reopening for their specific industries. The mayor added that if the city gets the first phase “correct,” it “will be that much nearer to Phase 2 and other phases.”
De Blasio estimated that between 200,000 and 400,000 employees will return to work during “Phase 1,” and said he is working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to work out how mass transit will operate. De Blasio noted that as more staff return to work, MTA subway services “can increase.”
The mayor also said that the city will send teams from different city agencies to make sure companies are reopening safely, while noting that the goal is not to penalize the businesses, but do more to help. De Blasio did, however, warn that if there are health or safety violations, the city could issue fines.
De Blasio also announced that the city is working to get New York City public schools opened by September 10.
Meanwhile, de Blasio also warned that the city will face “massive cuts” to city agencies due to the coronavirus crisis unless the federal government intervenes with aid or offers additional borrowing ability for the city — his latest plea to Washington for federal funds.
De Blasio earlier this week also warned that the city faces a multibillion-dollar deficit while pleading for federal and state assistance.
New York City previously estimated $7.4 billion in lost revenue due to the coronavirus crisis, but on Wednesday, de Blasio warned that the city is projecting a shortfall of nearly $9 billion— possibly more—over the next two fiscal years.
“We are now $9 billion in the hole between the current fiscal year and the one that begins July 1,” de Blasio said Wednesday. “The only way to possibly keep this city functioning and keep the services provided, keep people on our payroll, is if we get a really substantial stimulus program from Washington.”
De Blasio, earlier this week, warned of potential cuts, which he said would affect “all agencies.” It’s unclear whether the city might consider tax measures as well.
“There is literally no way that we can solve this problem without federal help or without having to make very, very painful choices that will affect the quality of life in this city, our ability to provide basic services and how many people we’re able to employ to support you in the middle of a pandemic,” he added.
De Blasio’s latest plea is the latest example of local and state governments warning about fiscal shortfalls as a result of coronavirus-related shutdowns and lockdowns.
Governors across the nation have also asked for federal aid, but it is unclear whether they will receive additional funds.
New York has been considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, reporting more than 200,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in New York City alone and more than 16,400 deaths as of Thursday
Meanwhile, Long Island was approved this week to begin its first phase of reopening. The region that includes Nassau and Suffolk counties – which combined have suffered nearly 4,000 deaths from the coronavirus — was given the green light after meeting requirements in contact tracing capacity and a decline in hospitalizations.