No metropolis has felt as much of the effect of the pandemic as New York. The city that never slept locked itself in the house day and night, the bustling subway and the taxis and cars that cluttered the streets emptied, the planes that dump tourists incessantly stopped landing at airports, and Manhattan, the financial center of the world, was on the fly. Meanwhile, the epidemic raged: there were 22,000 deaths between March and May, a tetanus world record. After so much distaste, it is clear that the first weekend of quarantine relaxation was a party. In fact, many parties, outdoors and with ten people at most gathered, wearing masks and keeping the distance put by the booklet to combat the virus. Throughout sunny Saturday and Sunday, small groups celebrated birthdays and reunions in Manhattan’s Central Park to the sound of amateur musicians on the lawns.
At dusk, in front of the bars (inside can not yet), the animation lowered the masks at the height of people’s chin, so as to toast the end of the isolation. In the city with the highest population density in the United States, about 50 kilometers of streets and avenues were transformed into pedestrian boardwalks, giving an air of festival to the jungle of stones known for the frantic traffic and the shuttle of hurried people. At some points, groups overreacted to the celebrations and took a poke from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ear. “Cases are increasing in 22 states. We don’t want to go through this deplorable situation,” he said in one of his usual lives, warning that reimpocing social isolation in areas, say, rebels is “a very serious possibility.”
NOW IT’S LIKE – Changes in routine: each in its round at Domino Park in Brooklyn, and sanitizing with lemon smell in the subway (below) Vanessa Carvalho/Brazil Photo Press/Patrick Cashin/.
On Monday 8, between 200 000 and 400 000 people returned to work in New York. New Yorkers are still testing the new routine, in which restaurants offer sidewalk delivery dishes, bars installed draft beer taps and cocktail services on a balcony on the front, and shoe stores placed chairs outside for customers to try their products. Despite the skids — and anti-corruption protests, which do not cease and have become a worrying focus of possible contamination — the population is obeying the rules. “The last few months have been very distressing and no one wants to go through it again,” veja said birthday girl Kelly Sandberg, who, in her head and all, celebrated with friends in Central Park.
The New York reopening plan was designed by the state government in four phases, and each region progresses or regresses the schedule according to a series of parameters measured daily. The city is in phase 1, which authorizes the return to work in construction, in factories and throughout the supply chain where there is no direct contact with the public. In street retail, the restricted service at the entrance door led many stores to postpone reopening, and sales of those that opened reflect the limitations. “Few customers want to buy without being able to get in, roam the macaws and try it out,” admits Mark Sullivan, who owns a women’s clothing store in Manhattan.
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After the first fifteen days, the government will reassess the number of infections. But excited by the smooth running of the reopening, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday 18 that the city can already move to phase 2 on Monday 22, with the release of the return to offices, beauty salons, outdoor dining areas and reopening of religious temples with a maximum of 25% capacity. For phases 3 and 4, the standards are less specific for now. It is expected that in the third stage the so-called hospitality industry – hotels, restaurants, bars and gyms – will return to the business, with far fewer people. The last phase includes the places of greatest concentration, including theaters and cinemas, schools and shopping malls. Broadway producers are refunding tickets to shows until September 6. It is true that many seats will have to be empty, which should inflate prices — as is already the case with airline tickets. In the same situation are the concert halls and museums, among them the Metropolitan, which had to postpone the entire year of celebrations that he had planned for his 150 years, completed on April 13. When it reopens, the Met will receive a fifth of the daily average of 20,000 visitors.
EXCITEMENT – Crowding in front of the bar: pito and threat of backsliding from Governor Jeenah Moon/Reuters
Gradually, New York adapts to the new reality. The centenary subway, celebrated by the population of rats in the millions and the permanent bad smell, now stops at dawn to be disinfected with a smelly product based on lemon and chlorine, to the pleasant surprise of the still few passengers, to whom employees offer disposable masks and bottles of alcohol gel. It’s going to be hard to enforce the 50% limit on car occupancy when all business reopens. “For now, we don’t need to intervene. But I don’t know how we’re going to stop the entry into full trains at the main stations,” says agent John Garrido.
The uncertainties about the future of the metropolis are many and diverse, but a touch on the soul of the city: what will become of the offices that occupy the New York skyscrapers, in view of the successful home office experience in key sectors such as finance and technology? Amazon in March acquired a $1 billion building on Fifth Avenue that, he warned, won’t open its doors until 2021 — and for those who want to leave their homes. Facebook, a 200,000-square-foot tenant in Manhattan just before the pandemic, also released the option of working remotely. The stampede would mean fewer people moving daily through downtown New York, with an expected and feared ripple effect on the revenues of theaters, restaurants, concert halls and small businesses that make the Big Apple shine. Would it be the end of New York as we know it?
Published in VEJA of June 24, 2020, issue no. 2692