New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that New York City is on track to reopen some in-store retail, hair salons and select office spaces with health precautions on Monday as the coronavirus outbreak continues to ease.
“I hope people learn from what we have accomplished here in New York,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing. “I hope people around the country look at New York and say, ‘how did they do that? How did they go from the worst situation in terms of transmission to the best? How did they do that?'”
New York City is currently in phase one of the state’s reopening plan, which allows for curbside retail pickup and drop off and the resumption of construction and manufacturing jobs. The phase two reopening will allow for in-store retail businesses to open at no more than 50% maximum occupancy, according to the state’s reopening guidelines.
Hair salons and barber shops in New York City will also be allowed to reopen at no more than 50% maximum occupancy. The order only applies to hair services and doesn’t apply to tattoo parlors, nail salons or any other personal care services or activities, according to state guidelines.
Office spaces for businesses in the professional services, nonprofit, technology, administrative support and higher education administration industries will be allowed to reopen at reduced capacity, along with other safety precautions.
“New York has climbed the mountain, and it was the highest mountain in the state of New York,” Cuomo said. “I’m going to declare the Covid mountain the highest mountain in the state of New York. It’s not really a mountain because it doesn’t exist, but it’s a mountain to me and it’s a mountain to many people.”
The phase two reopening order does not allow some businesses, like malls, gyms or indoor restaurants and bars to reopen yet, which will be allowed to return in phase three. However, restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor seating in phase two.
‘A historical mistake’
Even as New York rolls back its own restrictions, Cuomo voiced concern over other states that are reopening rapidly and seeing increases in Covid-19 cases. He said the state is now concerned about people visiting New York from places with increased cases in recent weeks.
“If those states are going up, they could spread the virus to New York. They have a higher rate of infection than New York,” Cuomo said. “What happens when those people get on planes and fly to New York? That’s how we got here in the first place, right? People landing at our airports.”
Cuomo said that the federal government has made a “historical mistake” on its handling of the crisis and how it has allowed states to reopen too quickly. He pointed to rising hospitalizations in states like Florida and Arizona as signs the Covid-19 outbreak is worsening in other parts of the nation.
“Hospitalizations are going up. The number of people going into hospitals is going up,” he said. “How do you explain that? Are they pretending to be sick? Are they not really sick?”
Cuomo said hospitalizations in New York City have declined for weeks and the positivity rate for Covid-19 tests fell to 1.4% on Wednesday, down from a high of 57% reported on April 1.
Overall, New York state reported a positivity rate of less than 1% out of nearly 60,000 tests conducted on Tuesday, among the lowest in the nation.
— CNBC’s Jasmine Kim contributed to this report.