On Monday, June 22, New York City officially entered Phase 2 of reopening. The announcement came the previous Friday when Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his last daily coronavirus briefing, a very hopeful sign for city residents and prospective visitors.
Phase 2 in NYC
Businesses, restaurants, and more are humming back to life. However, restrictions will still be in place to keep NYC coronavirus cases on the downturn.
In Phase 1, many restaurants revamped their business models in order to provide takeout and delivery services. In Phase 2, they can add outdoor dining. Tables must be spaced at least 6 feet apart and servers must wear masks at all times. Diners, on the other hand, can take their masks off once they reach their tables. Restaurants are encouraged to use disposable menus and many are placing QR codes on tables so guests can peruse the menu on their phones. Outdoor dining can extend beyond the sidewalk into park spaces provided those spaces are solely for the restaurant. Over 45-miles of city streets have been opened up for pedestrians since traffic has significantly decreased. The city is working to allow outdoor dining or seating in some of these open roads but that plan isn’t going into effect until at least July.
Consumers can get back to browsing the racks at their favorite shops. In Phase 1, retailers could only offer curbside pickup or delivery. Now, under specific restrictions, they can reopen to the public but only at 50% capacity (that includes both customers and employees). Retail establishments are encouraged to use touchless payment options and keep shopper interactions to a minimum. Some businesses are going so far as to make store aisles one-way to help control the flow of customer traffic.
Barbershops and Hair Salons
This is arguably the most anticipated reopening. After months of quarantine, New Yorkers are looking pretty shaggy. Fortunately, hair salons are back and stylists can get to work fixing our at-home hair cuts. Salon and barbershop occupancy are not allowed to exceed 50% and reservations are strongly suggested. Face coverings must be worn by staff members and customers at all times. Salons are also encouraged to keep records of all customers, including those who pay cash or are walk-ins, in order to make contact tracing easier, if necessary. Although many salons offer a myriad of services, at this time hair cuts are the only things allowed. Those seeking massages, hair removal, or nail services will have to wait for the time being.
After so much time staring at the same 4 walls, it’s no wonder some New Yorks are scrambling to find a new place. Real estate services are allowed to resume in Phase 2, but agents are only allowed to show vacant or unoccupied apartments at this time. Real estate agencies are encouraged to do virtual showings and conduct in-person business only when strictly necessary. Open houses are currently prohibited. Signing a lease may feel a bit different in this new socially distanced age. Audio-visual notarization may become the norm and wire-transfers the preferred form of payment.
Parents that have been cooped up with their small children for 4 months can breathe easier knowing that playgrounds are no longer off-limits. There will be new playground ambassadors present to help remind everyone to stay 6 feet apart. They will also be around to remind parents about basic hygiene rules and to distribute masks to those that don’t have them. Group sports such as basketball, baseball, and soccer are still banned. Playground equipment will not be sanitized, so parents are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer for themselves and their children.
Employees can return to office buildings in Phase 2, but businesses are still encouraged to keep a large portion of their workforce operating remotely. No more than 50% occupancy is allowed at a time and many businesses will stagger the days their employees are allowed in the building. Employees will have to wear masks when they’re within 6 feet of another person and elevators should carry only 1 passenger at a time. When this is impossible, all elevator riders must wear a face covering and the total occupancy cannot exceed 50%. Riders should use their knuckle or another object to press the buttons and should immediately sanitize once they’ve reached their floor.