NYC Plans for Full Reopening on July 1, Mayor Says: ‘We Are Ready’
The answer to “When will this all be over?” may finally be getting a bit more clear
What to Know
- All New York state-run mass vaccination sites now accept walk-ins for any New Yorker of any eligible age; New York City made the walk-in option universal at all city-run sites a week ago
- The move to expand vaccine access comes as infection rates are decreasing in most of the state. New York has averaged about 4,000 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past seven days
- Improvement in core health metrics and increased vaccinations are fueling more reopenings; Mayor Bill de Blasio says he plans to fully reopen New York City by early summer
New York City is aiming for a full reopening on July 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, suggesting a total removal of COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for well more than a year by early summer.
“Our plan is to fully reopen New York City on July 1,” the mayor said on “Morning Joe. “We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength.”
De Blasio is expected to elaborate further on the plan later in the day. It’s not clear if additional COVID requirements — like proof of vaccinations — would apply to his plan to bring restaurants, gyms, shops, hair salons and arenas back at full capacity.
The July 1 start would mean events that typically draw huge crowds — like the city’s annual Pride and Puerto Rican Day parades — would have already passed. It’s not clear how phased the full reopening process could be or how it would align with state regulations. Smaller theaters could reopen over the summer and Broadway is on track for opening by September. Schools will be back at “full strength” in the fall.
De Blasio has taken a necessarily cautious approach — at times voicing disagreement with state reopening decisions — to bringing back the one-time epicenter of the pandemic.
But increases in vaccinations have helped fuel declines in core viral metrics, especially around hospitalizations and deaths, in recent weeks. The mayor acknowledged the city still has work to do but says he’s confident in the timeline.
“Help us out by going out and getting vaccinated if you haven’t already, and it’s free and it’s all over the city and now we’re doing walkups at sites all over the city,” de Blasio said. “We’ve got some work to do but I’m quite confident we’ll be ready for full strength by July 1.”
New daily case, hospitalization and death averages are down in the city — by 38%, 43% and 37.5%, respectively — over the last seven days compared with the daily average for the prior 28 days, health department data shows. And the number of New Yorkers getting vaccinated continues to rise even as the rate slows a bit.
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New York City and New Jersey Vaccine Providers
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Data: City of New York, State of New Jersey • Nina Lin / NBC
De Blasio is expected to hit the halfway mark to his goal of fully vaccinating 5 million New York City residents by the end of June on Thursday, the same day New Yorkers of any eligible age will be accommodated on a walk-in basis at all state-run mass sites.
The walk-ins at state-run sites are for first doses only, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Most of the state-run mass vaccine sites administer the Pfizer vaccine, which can be given to anyone age 16+. The second dose of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be scheduled automatically after the first shot is administered, according to the governor.
Previously, the state walk-in option only applied to those age 60 and older and was limited to 16 sites. Cuomo expanded it this week as he seeks to keep vaccinations on pace with his reopening plans, which have accelerated considerably in recent weeks.
De Blasio opened all city-run sites to walk-ins of any eligible age last week as he seeks to hit his goal of fully vaccinating 5 million New York City residents by June’s end. He should hit that goal Thursday. As of the state’s latest data, 2.48 million New York City residents, 29.5% of the population, are fully vaccinated. Statewide, nearly a third of New Yorkers report a completed immunization series.
Both Cuomo and de Blasio have called on community health centers and private providers to open up walk-in appointments as well. The mayor wants pharmacies to do the same. He says making the process easier will help persuade skeptics.
“We may have, all of us, mistaken hesitancy for lack of convenience. There is definitely hesitancy too,” de Blasio said. “There’s definitely some people just don’t want to get the shot right now or maybe ever, but I think as we’ve made it more and more convenient, sort of incentivized folks more, we’re seeing lots of folks coming forward.”
The walk-in expansion comes as infection rates are decreasing in most of the state. New York has averaged about 4,000 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past seven days, less than half the daily number of cases it averaged to start the month. State hospitalizations are down 31.3% since April 1 alone, while the daily death average is down 25% over the previous 14-day period, New York Times data shows.
Improved health metrics and increased vaccinations have prompted the governors of New York and New Jersey to announce steps to relax restrictions practically every week, sometimes more than once, as of late. They’ve led to changes nationally, too, with the CDC easing outdoor mask guidance for fully vaccinated people.
A day ago, Cuomo said his longstanding statewide food and beverage service curfew will end next month for both indoor and outdoor dining areas, while bar seating can return to New York City starting Monday for the first time in more than a year.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
The announcement comes amid a series of recently announced capacity limit expansions for offices, large-scale outdoor events, concerts and non-NYC gyms and fitness centers by the governor of New York.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy made some reopening news across the river this week, too, announcing indoor capacity limits for weddings, proms, performances and more rises to 50% on May 10. Outdoor carnivals can return at 50% capacity the same day, while outdoor gathering limits will increase to 500, Murphy said.
Asked Wednesday, as he revealed new state guidance for day and sleepaway camps this summer, for a response to Cuomo’s latest move on bars, given the proximity between New Jersey and the city, Murphy said to expect developments next week.
“It is now quite clear this thing has turned — and turned for the better,” he added.
He is scheduled to get his second vaccine dose along with his wife on Friday, which will make them both fully vaccinated. They’ll join nearly a third of New Jerseyans who can say the same.
Nationally, 37.8% of U.S. adults age 18 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. That number is even higher among adults age 65 and older, 68.3% of whom have completed their shot series. More than half of U.S. adults have had at least one shot.