NEW YORK — NYC is on the comeback, with up to 300-thousand New Yorkers back to work Monday, in phase two of reopening, after businesses plummeted during the pandemic.
“It’s a huge step today, we could once again become NYC what it once was,” said Mayor Bill deBlasio.
Now open are hair salons and barbershops at 50% capacity; restaurants with outdoor seating; real estate offices, playgrounds, in-person vehicle sales, repair and cleaning; and retails stores including Macy's and Bloomingdale's.
“This has been a very human moment , when humans enjoying a little bit of normalcy connection with other human beings,” said Dorothy Kiely, Bloomingdale's senior vice president, NYC Area.
Shoppers and employees inside of the Bloomingdale's flagship store in Manhattan wore masks, with safety signs and hand sanitizer scattered throughout the store.
And for many New Yorkers, it was a good hair day too.
“I feel great, haven’t come here in three months,” said Kyle Cha, while in the chair at Ace of Cuts barbershop in the East Village, where they celebrated with a DJ.
“For safety, we have plastic covering each between each chair, masks and gloves,” said owner Alex Shamuelov.
While many businesses are back open, there are still many that will have to wait for for Phase 3.
Malls, restaurants with indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and event venues remain closed.
According to city health officials, coronavirus cases continue to drop in the city.
Still, New Yorkers should comply with all new norms in place, like remaining six feet apart inside businesses and wearing masks when not eating or drinking.
Joy Swinton enjoyed her first meal outdoors in months at Midnight Express Diner on the Upper East Side.
“It feels good to be out again,” she said.
“We have to keep six feet apart throughout all the tables and let customers know to wear their masks when they come in to use the restroom,” said diner owner Ari Santis.
De Blasio extended outdoor seating for restaurants in the five boroughs through the open restaurant program, allowing businesses to use curb lanes, sidewalks and backyards or patio seating, through an expedited certification process — which so far, nearly 3,200 restaurants have been approved.
But there are restaurants and bars that will have to wait for Phase 3 if they don’t have enough safe space for outdoor seating.
Many have already converted to take out food and drinks services, which the city said could result in fines of up to $10,000 if customers are not within 100 feet away with any open container alcoholic drinks.
In the meantime, while some business owners are converting their outdoor space to attract customers, others are fearful the heat may keep them away.