The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted human life in unprecedented ways: schools worldwide have moved to a digital existence, working from home is becoming the norm for those who are able to, cultural institutions have shuttered, and entire countries from Italy to Spain to France, among others, remain on lockdown. In the U.S., New York is among one of the fastest-spreading COVID-19 cities. Coronavirus cases in New York state alone have climbed to 732 with six deaths were reported as of March 16. In New York City, 329 people have tested positive, and of the six deaths in the state, five were in the city, according to the New York Times.
While slow to follow the lead of major cities around the world, New York City has been taking its first steps in an attempt to slow down the spread of the coronavirus: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday that the city’s public schools would be closed this week through at least April 20; employees able to work remotely have been urged to do so over the last week; and on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned gatherings over 50 people for the foreseeable future, all in an effort to hopefully flatten the curve.
Many New Yorkers, however, don’t seem to be getting the message. This past weekend, bars and restaurants remained full of people, eager to leave their homes after a week of self-quarantining, despite calls for “social distancing” from others and remaining indoors.
Now, Mayor de Blasio has since put his foot down on this activity, announcing on Twitter on Sunday night that “Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close. The order will go into effect Tuesday, March 17 at 9:00 AM.” On Monday, Cuomo officially announced in a conference that now, all non-essential facilities will also have an 8pm curfew. And, de Blasio also said he would “sign an Executive Order limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery” as of Monday.
While the New York city officials' actions seem drastic for the city that never sleeps, he notably follows in the footsteps of France, whose Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Saturday announced that all restaurants, movie theaters and stores would shutter in an attempt to stop the coronavirus from spreading, exempting necessities like pharmacies, banks, supermarkets, and the like. Now, many are wondering what life while social distancing will look like with these new regulations. Here's an in-depth look at what you need to know about New York City’s new shutdown rules, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo:
Restaurants & Cafés
Restaurants and cafes will be reduced to take-out and delivery only as of Monday. In an effort to maintain social distancing in public and keep large groups of people away from each other, Cuomo announced that all restaurants, bars and cafes would be limited in order to refrain from any public gatherings. NYC restaurants in the last few days have been offering “no-contact” or “contact-free” options for food ordered on services like Seamless and Postmates, meaning they are left on the doorstep instead of being physically handed to the customer.
Bars & Nightclubs
Bars and nightclubs will be officially closed. Popular nightlife staples like bars and nightclubs draw hundreds of patrons to their establishments, a huge no-no if New Yorkers want to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. On Monday, Cuomo mirrored de Blasio's twitter thread and announced that all “nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close.” He also announced his intent to sign this into effect on Tuesday, March 17 at 9 a.m.
Schools with close until April 20, but childcare and food programs will still be in place. Mayor de Blasio announced on Sunday that, although New York City public schools would be closed for the next five weeks, students who rely on getting their breakfast and lunch at school will have “grab-and-go” options available starting Monday, March 16. He also noted that, for workers who aren’t able to do their jobs remotely and depend on childcare during the day, “we’ll begin providing supervision for those workers’ children starting Monday March 23.” On the academic front, while schools will not be in session this week, students will move to digital-only learning starting on March 23.
Movie Theaters & Concert Venues
All movie theaters and concert venues will be shut down indefinitely. Before de Blasio or Cuomo officially announced closures to movie theaters in New York, many theaters (including existing ones in other states) began to offer "buffer seats." In addition to this, Cuomo announced that all concert venues will be officially shut down until further notice. Up until this week, concerts continued to take place in the greater New York area, putting thousands of people at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Gov. Cuomo announced Monday morning that all gymnasiums would also close. It's unclear when this will go into effect, but whether or not to go to the gym is one question that many in New York have been concerned about for the last two weeks. When asked about how to combat the lack of movement that may result in gym closures, Cuomo shared his own personal advice: "I have my own workout routine, that I have developed, and I don't do in the gymnasium."
As of this week, senior homes will be converted to feeding centers. Mayor de Blasio announced on Sunday that “we are also closing our senior centers and converting them into feeding centers where our seniors can pick up meals.” He noted in this announcement that “We don’t do any of this lightly, but we do it to protect our most vulnerable.”
Stores & Public Facilities
Stores and public spaces, unless they've chosen to self-close, will remain open but will have to abide by a city-wide curfew of 8pm. In de Blasio's Monday conference, he announced that although stores around the city remain open to the public and operating, non-essential stores must consider either closing or will need to be on curfew.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.