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Thousands go back to work as NYC enters Phase 3, de Blasio says

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described how Phase 3 will include the opening of personal care businesses, but indoor dining has been postponed for restaurants and bars. Credit: NYC Mayor's Office

New Yorkers returned to nail salons, tattoo parlors, basketball courts and dog runs Monday as the city that was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic entered Phase 3, the next step in rebuilding an economy abruptly shut down nearly four months ago.

“Today is a good day because about 50,000 people will come back to work and start their lives again,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday during his daily coronavirus briefing. “A whole range of personal services will be available again and we are starting simultaneously a lot of recreation activities in our parks.”

Waxing, tanning and massage salons also opened for business Monday, months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered them to shut down at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Bocce, tennis, handball and volleyball courts were also reopened. 

“It will be more of summer again,” de Blasio said. 

The city had planned on allowing bars and restaurants to offer indoor dining Monday, but de Blasio and Cuomo decided last week to continue restrictions on indoor dining after seeing sharp spikes of COVID-19 cases in Florida, Arizona, Texas and other states. 

“We’ve seen the restaurants and bars, indoor dining, cause so much resurgence in other states, so that is something that will be on hold for a substantial amount of time until we can figure out the right way to do that safely,” de Blasio said Monday.

The mayor said more than 7,000 restaurants and bars are now offering outdoor dining and drinking. “That has been a huge success,” he said. 

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About 700 city workers visited 1,000 restaurants and bars offering outdoor dining over the Fourth of July weekend to determine if they were complying with coronavirus regulations, de Blasio said. 

The vast majority — 85% — followed the guidelines, he said. Most of those not following the rules, the mayor said, were able to fall into compliance with simple steps, such as moving tables farther apart. 

“What we see is overwhelmingly both the restaurant owners and the cusomers are doing the right thing,” de Blasio said. “Sometimes people need some help, sometimes they need reminders, but overwhelmingly we see people are doing the right thing.” 

De Blasio said he was encouraged to seethat  ridership on city subways, buses and the Staten Island ferry has increased dramatically in recent weeks. Subway ridership on July 1 was up 7% compared to two weeks earlier, June 17. Bus ridership was up 12% and Staten Island Ferry ridership had jumped 15%. 

“That is why starting today we have gone back to the full rush hour service we had before the coronavirus hit,” de Blasio said 

Traffic increased 3% on the East River bridges and 7% on Harlem River bridges, de Blasio said. 

“Mass transit usage is going up substantially faster than car traffic, and is in many ways a good thing, a good sign that people are feeling more and more comfortable and ready to engage,” de Blasio said.

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