NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order closing restaurants, bars cafes, shutting down the Big Apple’s nightlife and says restaurants and bars may only provide take-out or delivery.
The closure will go into effect at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
De Blasio says remote learning for New York City schools will start on March 23, even as the public school system is shut down through April 20.
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In addition, elective surgeries will be suspended, along with City Council Hearings, visits to inmates along with other suspensions including the special election for Queens borough president.
“In general, the rule is ‘When in doubt, stay home,'” de Blasio said. “If you’re not sure you need to do it, stay home. Limit your time outside… when you go out, be mindful of social distancing.”
Coronavirus in NYC as of 4pm Mon:
463 confirmed cases citywide
-19 Staten Island
Total 7 deaths in NYC@CBSNewYork
— Ali Bauman (@AliBaumanTV) March 16, 2020
The number of confirmed cases in New York City continues to climb. There are now 463 citywide including seven deaths. One of those who has died is a Department of Correction investigator. De Blasio said he did not have contact with inmates.
“It will get a lot worse before it gets better,” de Blasio said. “We understand that so many people are going to be affected by this.”
“The answer is for all of us to work together and support each other,” he added.
De Blasio said he is gravely concerned about New York City’s hospital capacity, and is looking to scale up the amount of beds and facilities available. Four facilities are being brought online in two weeks, adding roughly 1,200-1,300 beds.
As far as expanding existing hospital capacity, hospitals will discharge existing patients on an expedited basis, canceling elective surgeries and converting areas like parking lots and cafeterias, de Blasio said.
“We have no choice but to expand rapidly,” he said.
Tents are being purchased and deployed to be made into makeshift ICUs, de Blasio said.
FEMA is involved and New York City will have five drive-thru testing facilities soon.
De Blasio also said new rules will take aim at price-gouging on a host of products including thermometers, sanitizing wipes, baby wipes, paper towels, latex gloves, masks, fever reducers, facial tissue, toilet tissue, rubbing alcohol, aloe vera and more.
People who detect price gouging should call 311, and the mayor urges folks to be specific about where exactly and what they’re seeing.
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The mayor said the restaurant decision was not one he took lightly.
Sunday night, de Blasio ordered cafes and restaurants to close their dining rooms. Meaning, businesses can only serve take-out or fill delivery orders.
Enforcement against delivery e-bikes will be suspended during the duration of the crisis, de Blasio said.
These are drastic changes for the greater good, say city and state officials. But the closures will hurt not just business owners, but their employees.
Fears of the coronavirus have already had an impact.
“In the last week, business is down by 80%. Cut my staff. Every day, everyone is just afraid to come out. Locals are staying home and hiding, and we’re trying to get by,” said Noel Hernandez, the manager at JoJo’s Philosophy in the Village.
Hernandez says this is sort of drop off is unsustainable.
“This is really bad. I have no idea. We have to pay rent, and I don’t think the landlord cares. We’ll do our best and see what happens,” he said.
Many New Yorkers CBS2’s Kevin Rincon spoke with are worried that whenever things get back to normal, it won’t look or feel the same.
“A lot of these place pay the really high rents, and they don’t last and go out anyway, so this is going to push them over the edge I’m afraid,” said Greenwich Village resident Paulette Mooney. “We just have to pray, and hope it turns out well for everyone.”
At City Hall, de Blasio was asked what, if anything, the city can do to help.
“Immediately, we are seeing working people with much less money in their pockets and tremendous fear about what’s going to happen next,” de Blasio said. “There should be a small sense of relief is that the House of Representatives acted on Friday, but it’s not enough we need more.”
For now, the mayor says people can still order take out and delivery, but even that has changed.
“And the deliveries. I had a lot of deliveries before. Right now only one a day. So not even deliveries, no nothing,” one delivery worker said.
As for the few delivery riders still opting to work, they have concerns.
“Right now, I’m a bit nervous. I don’t know if I’m going to make enough money to pay my bills, take care of myself and my family,” said a delivery worker.
The restriction also shuts down movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues. Clubs and bars with no food will be required to fully close, as well.
“It’s a necessary annoyance,” Manhattan resident Paris Brown told CBS2’s John Dias. “They’ve got to protect us, our lives.”
“I’m thinking if we do this, it’ll open sooner. If we leave them open and everybody gets sick, then everything gets closed for months,” said Anthony Picco, of Hell’s Kitchen.
“It’s blind, unreasoning panic, fear-driven panic,” Paull Weiss, also of Hell’s Kitchen, added. “Everybody should be cautious, but this is going way too far.”
The city’s department of health tweeted, “Everyone in NYC should act as if they have been exposed to coronavirus.”
** New #COVID19 guidance for New York City **
Everyone in NYC should act as if they have been exposed to coronavirus. That means monitoring your health closely and staying home from work if you are sick. New Yorkers who are not sick should also stay home as much as possible.
— nycHealthy (@nycHealthy) March 16, 2020
“Our lives are changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbors,” de Blasio said.
Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbors. Now it is time to take yet another drastic step.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 16, 2020
The new restrictions left hospitality workers scrambling. The mayor has not said how long they will last or if the city will offer financial support to help those impacted by it.
“I work in the restaurant industry, so yes, absolutely I’m scared. Will I have a job tomorrow?” said Bensonhurst resident Paul Miller. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
The owner of Galaxy Diner in Hell’s Kitchen and his staff spent their last day open rearranging furniture so customers could practice social distancing. They don’t know how they will bounce back.
“What can I say? I don’t know, I cannot predict the future. We have to close, we got to close,” the manager said.
A few blocks away at Cosmic Diner, workers were in shock. The owner said he didn’t know what he was going to do about his employees.
The president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce said the chamber coalition is trying to think of ways to keep businesses alive.
“Put together some thoughts about suspending income tax payments, suspending a whole bunch of different things that go on in a normal course of business, at least for the months of March and April and see where that goes,” Tom Grech said. “The forced shutdown is definitely unprecedented, and we are in territory I don’t think any of us in the modern age have ever seen.”
Similar measures have been announced in major cities across American and Western Europe.