NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two months ago, for the first time in its history while the markets remained open, the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange closed.
Tuesday marks a new chapter — it’s reopening.
Over the holiday weekend, a giant American flag and banner reading “Together, We’re Strong” was unfurled to commemorate the occasion.
CBS2’s Kristine Johnson spoke with Stacey Cunningham, the president of the Stock Exchange, about the new normal for this storied institution.
“We need to get America restarted and New York restarted,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham has been in and around the New York Stock Exchange for over 25 years. In her second year as president, and under the threat of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, she closed down the trading floor on March 23.
“So that was a hard decision to make, even though I knew it was the right one to make. I knew at the time and said at the time we will reopen and we will come back from this,” Cunningham said.
And the Exchange has. On the day after Memorial Day the trading floor reopens, with precautions, of course. Only a quarter of the traders have been given permission to return.
“They are not able to earn an income, like many of the small businesses today. They are the most impacted. So as we reopen on Tuesday, we’re focusing on those groups that are most impacted by this pandemic and by this shutdown,” Cunningham said.
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Those traders will find markings on the sidewalk leading to security, to ensure social distance.
“Every person that comes into the building will be screened by a medical professional and will have a questionnaire and temperature checks,” Cunningham said. “Anyone that doesn’t pass that screening won’t be allowed to enter the building.”
Masks will be required at all times. Inside, elevators will have a two-person limit, plexiglas will separate work stations, and sanitizing stations have been strategically placed.
There will be no media, no handshakes, and no public transportation while the pause order is still in place.
“There are so many of us that want to reopen. That doesn’t mean going back to normal, the way things were before. We have to be smart about how we do this and we have to be cautious. Otherwise, we’re going to put others at risk,” Cunningham said.
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When asked what it means, symbolically, for the NYSE to reopen?
“We are tough together. We are stronger together. We are standing on a corner where our country was founded. Literally, George Washington was sworn in as our first president right behind you. Alexander Hamilton had his law office on the corner right around the street,” Cunningham said. “For 228 years, we have been at the center of our economy, and we are going to prevail through this and for centuries to come.”
A New York landmark, institution, and backbone of our economy has survived centuries, by adapting to the times.