STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It has been months since New York City shuttered in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and Monday marks the beginning of the Big Apple’s reopening — known as Phase 1.
While this phase does not mean a return to normal, more businesses will be allowed to open on Monday, and regular service on MTA buses and subways is also set to return.
“Remember that reopening does not mean that we’re going back to the way things were,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said. “Life is not about going back. Nobody goes back. We go forward. And it’s going to be different. This is about reopening to a new normal — a safer normal. People will be wearing masks and people will be socially distanced — it’s a new way of interacting, which is what we have to do. Wear a mask, get tested and socially distance.”
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Cuomo’s regional opening plan was announced in early May and consists of four phases. In each phase, different restrictions will be lifted if the region qualifies.
WHAT IS OPENING?
In Phase 1, non-essential industries will be allowed to open under low-contact conditions. Those industries include construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, limited retail service, manufacturing and wholesale trade.
Each business will have to adhere to physical distancing, protective equipment, hygiene and cleaning, communication and screening guidelines set by the state.
With face masks at the ready and social distancing strategies in place, some small retailers across Staten Island are preparing for reopening.
“We want our businesses, their employees and our community to stay safe during the re-opening,’’ said Nina Flores, executive director of the Forest Avenue Business Improvement District (BID). “Our retail businesses will be limited to delivery, curbside and in-store pickup. Most of our restaurants have been operating with curbside and delivery since the pandemic and have been offering daily specials.”
Within each industry, social distancing of six feet must be enforced and face coverings must be provided at no-cost to employees. Mandatory screening also will be required, including potential temperature checks or questionnaires.
All guidelines must be clearly communicated to employees before or at their return to work.
The list of retail stores that can open Monday as part of Phase 1 includes:
Clothing storesDirect selling establishmentsElectronics and appliance storesElectronic shopping and mail-order housesFurniture and home furnishing storesFloristsGeneral merchandise storesHealth and personal care storesJewelry, luggage, and leather goods storesLawn and garden equipment and supplies storesOffice supplies, stationery, and gift storesUsed merchandise storesShoe storesSporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book storesOther miscellaneous store retailers
Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the MTA has been operating an Essential Service Plan, offering reduced service frequencies, but maintaining transit options for the city’s essential workers.
What’s being touted as full, regular service on all MTA buses and subways is set to return by Monday. This includes Staten Island’s local and express buses.
However, despite “full” service restoration during the day, the subway system will remain closed from 1 to 5 a.m. for sanitization.
Since early May, the MTA has been shutting down the city’s entire subway system during those hours in order to disinfect the system and connect homeless individuals sleeping in the subways with the appropriate resources and social services.
Also, the MTA has confirmed that the Staten Island Railway will not yet return to its full schedule and will continue to align with the Staten Island Ferry, which is currently running hourly for most of the day, with increased frequencies during the morning and evening rush hour.
For more information on what riders can expect on Monday, click here.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
An evaluation two weeks after New York City enters Phase 1 will determine if the city is eligible to enter Phase 2. Every two weeks after a new phase is entered, the status of the region will be reevaluated.
In Phase 2, storefront retailers and businesses in professional services, finance and insurance, administrative support, real-estate and rental-leasing industries will be allowed to open.
In Phase 3, restaurants and other food services will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Hotels, which already are essential, will be able to reopen their restaurants, spas and gyms.
In the final phase, schools, arts and entertainment can reopen. This includes theaters, entertainment and sporting venues, museums and more.