New York opens again – cautious and “in constant fear”

The United States is worst affected by the corona pandemic worldwide, especially the state of New York with its metropolis of millions. But slowly there is cautious hope.

Joe McHarris has hope again. As of Friday, he is allowed to reopen his small art shop in the village of Clinton, north of New York City. “Artisans’ Corner” had to be closed for almost two months during the Corona crisis, sales slumped by 90 percent. Some artists who sell with him have suffered a lot, he says. But now it should get better again: The US state of New York begins to loosen restrictions after almost 30,000 deaths. The “next big step in this historic journey,” says Governor  Andrew Cuomo . And an incomparable feat of strength – especially for the hit metropolis of New York City.

Hope for artists and traders

“This is very promising for me, but also unsettling at the same time,” says shop owner McHarris. He is still not sure if New York is really out of the worst. On the other hand, it is important that he can open his shop again. Fates of more than 30 artists depended on him. In the coming days, he will be allowed to sell out of business again – and if everything goes well, open his doors soon afterwards.

The opening starts with small steps. The ten regions in the state of New York, which has a population of 20 million, must meet seven requirements. It is important, for example, that on average no more than two out of 100,000 residents are brought to the hospital per day, that a certain number of free emergency beds are given and that sufficient tests are carried out.

Regions far away from the metropolis are starting

A region may only begin with the first phase if all the requirements are met. By Friday, there are expected to be four rural regions in the north of the state – far from the metropolis of New York City. In the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, North Country and Mohawk Valley areas, construction work and artisans can resume starting on Friday – and shops such as “Artisans’ Corner” can start selling on the street.

If a region continues to meet all the criteria, it will go one level further after two weeks and enter phase two. Then shops can reopen their rooms, and a number of employees in the finance and insurance sectors can go back to the office. After at least two more weeks without complications, restaurants can reopen in the third phase – and at the end in the fourth phase again theaters, museums, schools and universities.

“We live in constant fear”

A delay – or a step back into a previous phase – is always possible, that is decided by regional bodies. “We live in constant fear of a second wave of infections,” says Governor Cuomo – pointing to his deep, dark circles under the eyes.

“I really feel like we’re on a long road,” says Blazosky. She is the president of the tourism agency in the Oneida district north of New York. Even if the first phase begins now, the business with visitors will suffer for a long time. Blazosky first expects guests from the surrounding areas. When guests from abroad are coming again is completely unclear. Nevertheless, the measures were necessary. “You can’t replace people, so that’s the most important thing.”

New York City is still far from easing

The situation is completely different 300 kilometers further south. The densely populated metropolis of New York City currently only fulfills four of the seven prerequisites for the beginning of the phase-by easing. The number of new patients per day is still far too high and there are not yet enough free hospital beds. For the metropolis that is always in the spotlight of the world, this means: keep waiting. “Obviously, we’re not quite there yet,” said Mayor  Bill de Blasio . “The probability – if no miracle happens – is that it will be June.”

But if the opening only starts in June, then – more and more people in New York are now convinced – the big city will probably remain paralyzed for months. The Broadway Theater umbrella organization has already announced that there will be no shows until at least early September. Operas and orchestras have stopped their programs, which normally run until summer.

The schools had already been closed by the summer vacation anyway – and there are considerations that classes can only be given afterwards, the psychologist at a private school in Manhattan says  . She is spending the crisis with her parents in New Jersey, says the 31-year-old. “I am in good health and I still have my job, so I am very privileged. For many of my students I see that this condition is very difficult for them, which worries me – especially if it is now longer and longer I will only have one luxury problem: I miss Manhattan and its great energy. “

Governor praises New Yorkers

Governor Cuomo praised all New Yorkers doing great in the crisis. “We were really in a bad situation – but we changed the worst situation in the whole country for the better. If we hadn’t done that, we would have made the situation in Italy look like a walk in the park in comparison.” Italy  was hit particularly hard by the Corona pandemic in Europe.