New York City could ease social distancing restrictions and permit nonessential businesses to reopen by June if state and city COVID-19 indicators keep trending in the right direction, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
The mayor warned that reopening the city too soon could lead to a “boomerang” in new coronavirus cases, adding that people will still be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing. Seniors, residents with health conditions and others vulnerable to infection will continue to be urged to take extra precautions.
“I think it is fair to say June is when we're going to potentially be able to make some real changes if we can continue our progress,” de Blasio said Monday during his daily coronavirus briefing.
He also condemned a Queens couple's alleged attack Sunday on a group of Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg. Paulo Pinho, 35, and his wife Cielia Pinho, 46, first accused the group of failing to practice social distancing — and then tried to rip protective masks off three men, the NYPD said.
Both were charged with aggravated harassment, and police said they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
“We don’t accept bias in New York City,” de Blasio said. “We don’t accept hate in any form. Any act of bias, any hate crime, we pursue it. We make sure there are consequences for the perpetrator.”
De Blasio also announced Monday that the city will resume alternate side parking next week — for just a week — allowing the Department of Sanitation an opportunity to give city streets a clean sweep.
The city suspended parking regulations in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but the rules will be back in place May 18 through the 24th.
“Litter is starting to add up,” de Blasio said.
The city will suspend parking rules from May 25 to June 7, de Blasio said.
The coronavirus-linked illness that has sickened at least 38 city children should not affect plans to reopen schools in September, de Blasio and New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot both said, although officials will continue to closely monitor the disease, known as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
“As of this moment, we believe we can reopen schools safely and well in September,” de Blasio said.
Barbot urged parents of children with symptoms of the syndrome, which include persistent fever, nausea, rash, red eyes and red, swollen lips — to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
“The long term consequences for children are pretty neglible,” Barbot said. “If you delay treatment, then the concern is that children may have long-term consequences."
The number of patients admitted to hospitals for the coronavirus declined from 69 Friday to 55 Saturday, the mayor said. Patients in public hospital intensive care units dropped from 540 Friday to 537 Saturday, according to de Blasio. Thirteen percent of those tested Saturday for the coronavirus are positive, down from 17% Friday.
City officials could begin talking about a plan to relax restrictions by late May or early June, if city indicators, as well as those set by the state, decline for 10 to 14 days. The indicators have trended in the right direction in recent weeks, de Blasio said, but progress remains erratic.
“We are going to always go by the data,” de Blasio said. “It’s been pretty good and pretty consistent, but it is quite not where we want it to be … But we need to see it sustained in a deeper way and right now that takes us into June.”