Coronavirus: New York's core image may be at risk amid prolonged shutdown

A handful of pedestrians walking through a normally bustling and energetic Times Square in New York City earlier this month. PHOTO: REUTERS
A handful of pedestrians walking through a normally bustling and energetic Times Square in New York City earlier this month. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • New York City extended a two-month lockdown, even as parts of the state began to open up yesterday, leaving America's cultural and commercial capital wondering what its future holds.

While many European cities begin the process of reviving their economies, the Big Apple - America's coronavirus epicentre - shows no sign of easing restrictions as the authorities fear sparking another wave of Covid-19 infections.

"I'm bored to tears," said sprightly 80-year-old Rhoda Glass, who at this time of year would normally be bouncing between the several charities where she volunteers. "I'm just hoping we come back to a semblance of normal pretty soon," she told Agence France-Presse.

That wish seems unlikely, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying NYC will have to wait until June before a decision can be made on when non-essential businesses, such as its world-renowned museums, can reopen.

Governor Andrew Cuomo extended various emergency measures late on Thursday, some to May 28 and others to June 13.

Sipping cocktails on a rooftop bar, seeing a concert in Madison Square Garden or being absorbed in the crowds of Times Square: activities symbolic of New York's status as a bustling, exciting metropolis seem unimaginable in the foreseeable future.

Beloved Broadway theatres have said they will not reopen until September at the earliest.

The authorities have said swimming pools will remain closed and insist it is too early to say whether schools can open in September for the new academic year.

"We have to be smart," Mr Cuomo has said numerous times about reopening, pointing out that countries which eased restrictions too quickly had to shut down again after cases spiked.

 

Covid-19 is thought to have killed more than 20,000 New York City residents since it registered its first case in early March, representing almost a quarter of America's coronavirus deaths. Upwards of 700 New York state residents were dying every day at the height of the crisis last month. Numbers this week have been hovering at around the 160-mark.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2020, with the headline 'Big Apple's core image may be at risk amid prolonged shutdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe