New York City, the former epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, is set to enter Phase 4 of its reopening plan on Monday, which includes indoor cultural attractions, malls, and indoor dining. However, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that those businesses will not yet reopen in NYC, citing the federal government’s inaction, the virus’s spread in other states, and the possibility of a second wave.
“We’re not going to have any indoor activity in malls or cultural institutions,” Cuomo said on a conference call reported by the New York Times. “We are still in a precarious position, not because of anything we have done, but because of the negligence of the federal government, and the states that, frankly, listen to the federal government.”
“I am very worried about the spread that we see across the country, and the inevitability that the spread will be here,” the governor added.
All regions of the state except New York City have already entered Phase 4 of reopening. The last phase of the “New York Forward” plan, it includes higher education, pre-K to Grade 12 schools, media production, and professional sports competitions without fans in addition to “low-risk indoor arts and entertainment” and shopping malls.
Monday, July 20 was the earliest date that cultural institutions in the city would have reopened, but many museums are choosing to gauge the rapidly-changing situation day by day rather than set hard dates. The Museum of the City of New York expected to open its doors next week, but Cuomo’s latest announcement will push back the institution’s reopening timeline.
Earlier this week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an institution others look to for guidance, confirmed its plans to reopen on August 29 at 25% capacity. Under Cuomo’s reopening plan, zoos and botanical gardens will be allowed to reopen at 33 percent capacity; the New York Botanical Garden has announced plans to reopen on July 28, with reservations in advanced required.
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What is the problem with re-opening museums? Museums like the Met are massive. Make tickets available online only and limit them to X number per hour. Other than pay-what-you-wish or free admission days, I have never been in a museum where I couldn’t socially distance as I walked around.
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