New York City can start phase 4 reopening on Monday, governor Cuomo says

New York City has had 217,562 Covid-19 cases through July 17. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - New York City, the epicentre of the US outbreak, can start the fourth and final phase of reopening on Monday (July 20), governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The move means that the entire state is now in Phase 4. Mr Cuomo has reopened the state in regions and in phases, and warned other states to do the same or risk a spike in cases.

"That is a hallmark for us," Mr Cuomo said. "If you reopen smart and reopen in phases and follow the data it's a better way of reopening. That way if if you have a viral increase you have to go back and close again."

Under Phase 4, sports can take place without fans. Zoos, botanical gardens and outdoor movie production can resume, but indoor dining, museums and malls will remain closed, mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier on Friday.

He and Mr Cuomo are in agreement on cautiously "opening the parts of our economy that we can do safely," Mr de Blasio said.

Mr De Blasio said the state's Open Restaurants programme, which allows temporary outdoor dining on certain sidewalks and streets, will be extended through October. The programme, with participation from about 8,600 restaurants, also will be expanded to 40 more blocks, including in hard-hit Chinatown, the mayor said.

"Phase Four means a lot of people going back to work," Mr de Blasio said. "That just gives you a lot of hope."

New York City has had 217,562 Covid-19 cases through July 17, more than half of the state's total. At one point in March, more than 70 per cent of the city's tests were coming back positive. As of Thursday it had 1 per cent positivity, state data show.

On Thursday, Mr Cuomo announced stepped-up violations and restrictions on restaurants and bars in New York City to ensure compliance with the state's social distancing and face-mask orders.

The regulations include a ban on stand-up bars to restrict "the congregating and mingling that arise in a bar service/drinking only environment."

Mr De Blasio said that while he respects Mr Cuomo's reopening decisions, he also appreciates the efforts people have made to keep their distance and comply with regulations.

"It's quite clear that people take the virus seriously," he said.

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