Hundreds of thousands of workers — many of them Long Island residents — will return Monday to their jobs in construction, manufacturing, retail and other sectors as New York City takes the first steps toward reopening an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
In Nassau and Suffolk meanwhile, stores, hair salons, real estate companies, professional services and other businesses are preparing to open their doors Wednesday when Long Island graduates to Phase 2 of guidelines set by the state.
The key to safely reopening the city, which has been the center of the pandemic, killing nearly 22,000, and also home to police brutality protests that public health experts fear could bring a surge in coronavirus cases, will be aggressive testing, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.
“We’re going to do 35,000 tests per day just in New York City,” the governor said Sunday during his daily briefing on the pandemic. “So we’ll watch it on a daily basis to find out exactly what is happening.”
The MTA, which expects ridership to only be at about 20% Monday, will make hand sanitizer available at stations and ask commuters to wear masks. Masks will be provided to commuters without them, officials said.
Off-peak fares will continue on the Long Island Rail Road, where riders will also be asked to wear face coverings.
Under Long Island's Phase 2 reopening, shoppers will be allowed to enter nonessential business such as clothing stores, real estate offices and car dealerships. Those businesses must remain at or below 50% capacity. Lines will be prohibited, waiting rooms must remain closed and masks for staff and customers are required.
Hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to open with strict guidelines, good news for those eager for a trim or to color graying roots. All customers will be required to wear masks.
Long Island restaurants will be permitted to offer outdoor dining, but tables must be 6 feet or more apart and staff members must wear masks. Diners will be asked to wear masks when not seated.
Office workers in Nassau and Suffolk will have to remain 6 feet apart and wear face coverings during meetings and other close encounters with colleagues. Employers will have to stagger workers' arrival and departure times.
Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship will also be permitted to open under Phase 2, Cuomo said Saturday, but they will be capped at 25% capacity.
Correction: Nail salons are not part of the Phase 2 reopening. An earlier version of this story misstated this fact.