On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced schools and nonessential businesses in nine New York City ZIP codes will have to close temporarily as the areas face worrying spikes in coronavirus cases. The closures, set to begin Oct. 7, mark the first major reversal in the city’s reopening plans since the pandemic forced shutdowns in March.
“We now have nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens that have been above a 3% positivity level for seven consecutive days or more,” de Blasio said during a Sunday press conference. “That measure tells us that we have to take more extensive action.” The mayor said the ZIP codes represent roughly a half-million people in total.
Some of the ZIP codes de Blasio highlighted have coronavirus positivity rates nearing 9%, although he said the city as a whole “continues to have a low positivity level.” The indefinite shutdowns in neighborhoods facing seven-day spikes will impact private and public schools, de Blasio said, and any restaurants in these areas will now only be allowed to serve food for pickup. In 11 other ZIP codes where the positivity rate is currently hovering around 3%, de Blasio said he plans to prevent high-risk activities by temporarily closing gyms, suspending indoor dining and shutting down pools. Indoor dining in New York City began on Sept. 30 at 25% capacity.
New York has seen a steady rise in new coronavirus cases over the last week, and on Saturday the state recorded its highest number of new cases ― more than 1,700 ― since May.
De Blasio said his plan for temporary closures requires approval from the state. As more areas were added to New York City’s list of coronavirus hotspots on Thursday and Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said there could be repercussions for local governments that don’t enforce coronavirus safety measures.
“If local governments don’t step up compliance, they can actually be in violation of the law and they can be fined,” Cuomo said. In a Saturday statement, Cuomo implored New Yorkers to “stay vigilant” in protecting themselves from a virus health officials believe will make a resurgence this fall and winter.
“The pandemic is not over,” he said.
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