NYC schools, restaurants, nonessential businesses in COVID hot spots to close Wednesday, de Blasio says
New York City is moving to shut down schools, restaurant dining and nonessential businesses in nine Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods undergoing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Mayor de Blasio said Sunday.
The shutdown — which would mark a significant reversal to the painstaking, months-long process of reopening the city — will start Wednesday, pending state approval, he added.
“The goal here is to do everything we can to stop something bigger from happening right now,” Hizzoner said at a press conference.
“It will require sacrifice. We’re talking about people who have been through so much,” he continued. “But it’s something that we believe is necessary to keep this city from going backwards toward where we were months ago.”
The city is targeting nine areas, including predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, where cases began to flare up last month. Those include Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Gravesend, Midwood and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, along with Far Rockaway and Kew Gardens in Queens. About half a million New Yorkers live in those areas, the mayor said.
If the state approves de Blasio’s plan, students will be able attend public and private school in person on Monday and Tuesday, but will have to shift to online-only learning starting Wednesday. About 100 public and 200 private schools would be affected, officials said.
“Those two days are going to give us crucial time to make sure students have the devices they need for the remote learning tenure they will have,” said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “They’ll allow us also to communicate with families, to set up schedules for remote learning.”
Both indoor and outdoor dining would be banned, but houses of worship will be allowed to stay open for now, de Blasio said.
The nine zip codes targeted by the city have had COVID infection rates of 3% or higher the past seven days. The city is monitoring 11 additional zip codes where increasing COVID numbers have provided cause for “concern,” the mayor said.
Citywide, the seven-day average COVID infection rate was 1.72% as of Saturday, according to de Blasio. He previously said all schools would be shut down if the rate reaches 3%.
The city is working with the state, which has final approval on the measures, de Blasio said.
Gov. Cuomo had harsh words for the city’s handling of the outbreak earlier Sunday.
“[Local governments] have a legal obligation to enforce the law. If they’re not enforcing the law, the local governments are violating the law,” he said on a call with reporters. “The only option then available is what we did with bars and restaurants.”
He said that this week, the state will begin shutting down businesses for rules violations in Brooklyn, Queens and other parts of the state, though he did not provide any details. While he didn’t name New York City, Cuomo also said if a locality asks the state to shut down business activity because the locality can’t conduct “effective enforcement,” the state will do so.