NYC COVID-19 Updates: Gathering Bans, Venue Closures & More

A Message from DoNYC

The coming weeks or even months will be a difficult time for the city and the amazing arts and entertainment community of New York. It's extremely important that when this passes, we all go out and support the venues, restaurants, museums, bars and stores we love so that they recover from the economic impact of this situation as fast as possible. In the meantime, we recommend regularly checking the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's website for all the latest updates and directives. We're not health and safety experts; we're experience experts. 

We're all about helping you have the night of your life, every night, and will continue to do so in the best way possible. Thanks for your continued support and the support of our community!

Now on to the news:

Updated August 7th, 2020: 

"Safe and Just Reopening Plan" for Restaurants

As restaurants across the city struggle to survive without indoor dining options in the city, leaders in the restaurant industry have set their sights beyond the current predicament and hope to address systemic inequalities and create a future for the industry that is safe, equitable, and fair. A new coalition of restaurant owners and workers including celebrity chef/owners David Chang, Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio have proposed a "Safe and Just Reopening Plan" in an open letter to the governor. The plan is centered on four main pillars: elimination of a sub-minimum tipped wage, allowing tip sharing with back-of-house staff, payroll tax relief for restaurants, and a 5% safe reopening surcharge. They believe that forcing restaurant workers to rely on tips "creates a system that encourages rampant sexual harassment of women, reinforces a wide delta of inequity of race, mass disenfranchisement of immigrants, people of color and working poor," and state that seeing the effects of a drop of tips during the pandemic has highlighted the injustices of the system across the board. 

Today is the Deadline For Parents to Decide on In Person Learning 

Today is the deadline for parents of students in the public school system to decide whether they want their children to participate in hybrid in person learning this fall, or remain fully remote. Parents who do not fill out the DOE form here will automatically be signed up for hybrid learning in September. Students will be able to opt-out of in person learning and switch to a fully remote system at any time, but students who begin the year fully remote will only have the option to move into classrooms at select intervals throughout the year. 

Eviction Uncertainty as Housing Courts Reopen

As housing courts reopen across the city, many residents are left with uncertainty about whether or not they may be evicted. Governor Cuomo signed an executive order this week allowing courts to suspend deadlines on civil litigation, including evictions. The order lasts until September 4th, and is not mandatory. It allows individual courts to decide whether or not to postpone individual cases at their discretion. Residents who have not been able to make payments due to economic hardship caused by the pandemic are still protected, but those who missed payments prior to the onset of the pandemic in March and those who face eviction for other, non-monetary issues are subject to eviction now. Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio said that the city is currently looking into options to prevent city marshals from carrying out eviction orders and hopes to "make sure we are being as smart and flexible as possible to avoid economic evictions," but ultimately must follow the state's laws.

Updated August 6th, 2020: 

Indoor Dining Still a Long Way Off

Restaurant owners across the city have been pushing Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio for information about when they can expect to open for indoor dining, with little success. According to NYC Hospitality Alliance executive director Andrew Riggle, "The whole situation is absolutely devastating," more than month after indoor dining was pulled from the city's reopening plan. Addressing mounting frustrations that restaurants are allowed to serve indoors in every other region of the state and a lack of information released indicating when that may be possible in New York, Mayor de Blasio said yesterday, "I think it’s a post Labor Day reality from my point of view to assess it." 

Boozy Ice Cream Now Legal in New York

New York state will now allow the production and sale of ice cream infused with hard liquor. Previously, it was legal to create ice cream with beer, wine or cider, but the state just paved the way for dairy manufacturers to go straight to the hard stuff. Under the new law, liquor-infused ice cream must contain no more than 5% alcohol, and must be labeled accordingly. 

New York Venues Band Together to Plead for Support

More than 150 venues around the city have banded together under a new banner, the New York Independent Venue Association, in order to plead for support from the federal government in order to stay afloat. The group is an offshoot of the National Independent Venue Association, which launched the Save Our Stages campaign to urge concert goers to contact their congressmen to support legislation to help fund independent venues. According to the NYIVA press release, the average New York venue will need as much as $300,000 to avoid permanently closing if they are not allowed to open until 2021, which seems like the most likely scenario given the current state of the virus in the county.

Updated August 5th, 2020:

City Parts with Health Commissioner

Yesterday morning, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced her resignation after expressing concerns that Mayor de Blasio had "sidelined" her administration while working on plans to reopen the city. Shortly after the announcement came from her department, the mayor convened a press conference to introduce the new commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokski. The mayor also stated that Dr. Barbot's resignation letter was preceded by his office's decision to let her go over the weekend. 

Checkpoints Entering the City

Starting today, the New York City Sheriff's Office will conduct random stops at checkpoints at major bridges and tunnels entering the city in order to educate travelers about New York's mandatory quarantine rules. In announcing the program yesterday, Mayor de Blasio said, "The idea is we don't want to penalize people, we want to educate them, we want to make sure they're following the rules." In order to ensure fairness, the officers stationed at checkpoints will be stopping cars at a pre-determined interval in order to educate them about the mandatory quarantine, including providing information about the requirements of the quarantine and how to obtain free food delivery, tele-medicine appointments with doctors, or even hotels in which to stay.

Updated August 4th, 2020: 

Outdoor Dining Will Return in 2021

Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday that the city will bring back its outdoor dining program in 2021, regardless of the status of the virus at that time. In his announcement the mayor cited the overwhelming success of the program, which has allowed more than 9,000 restaurants across the five boroughs to bring tables and chairs to sidewalks and streets. He expects that restaurants could begin setting up their tables by at least June 1st, 2021, if not sooner. He is also looking to extend the current end date of October 31st for outdoor dining, but that will largely be dependent on infection rates and weather in the fall.

Judge Rules Absentee Ballots Missing Postmarks Must Be Counted

Federal Judge Analisa Torres ruled yesterday that the New York Board of Elections must count primary ballots that were invalidated due to a missing postmark. In her ruling, Judge Torres stated, "When voters have been provided with absentee ballots and assured that their votes on those ballots will be counted, the state cannot ignore a later discovered, systemic problem that arbitrarily renders those ballots invalid," and stressed that these issues were largely the fault of the USPS, not the voters. In order to be counted, the ballots must have been received by the BOE by June 25th, two days after the primary. They must also be otherwise free from errors, as the postmark was the only invalidating factor addressed in this ruling. There are a number of primaries that remain very close, including the race between incumbent congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and progressive Suraj Patel, who currently trails by under 4,000 votes.

Teachers Protest School Reopening

Yesterday afternoon, over 200 teachers, school aids, parents and students marched to protest the mayor's school reopening plan. The teachers carried fake coffins and even a guillotine to show their dissatisfaction with the plan to return to in person classes in September, which they believe puts their lives in danger. 

19 More Liquor License Suspensions

The governor continued his strict enforcement of social distancing protocols for state bars and restaurants this week as the State Liquor Authority suspended the liquor licenses of another 19 venues. To date, they have suspended the licenses of 83 businesses across the state, and processed just short of 600 charges. The recent suspensions include Congress on Court St., George Keeley's on the Upper West Side, Shinsen on the Bowery and more. You can see the full list on the state's website here. 

Updated August 3rd, 2020: 

Illegal Boat Party Ends in Arrests

On Saturday, the East River party boat Liberty Belle returned to port after a night of reveling to an unwelcome surprise: the NYC Sheriff's department ready and waiting for their arrival. Over 150 people enjoyed a 3-hour party cruise aboard the Liberty Belle without any mask requirements or other social distancing measures in place. Upon their return to shore, the party's two promoters were arrested and issued desk appearance tickets for serving alcohol without a license from the State Liquor Authority, storing alcohol without a permit, and other offenses. All of the booze on board was also seized by the sheriffs. The boat's captain was also served with a summons for not displaying the proper identification on his ship.

15 More Open Restaurant Streets Added

Over the weekend, the city added 15 more streets to its now-extensive Open Restaurants program. On the Upper West Side the largest strip of Open Streets yet debuted on Amsterdam Ave, a 13 block stretch between 97th and 110th St. Plus, Korea Town is now open, and long-time favorite Wo Hop will be serving on a partially closed Mott Street (albeit with reduced hours; Open Streets close at 11pm, so you won't be able to stumble in at 3:45am for now). The city now holds a total of 62 participating streets, which will remain closed to vehicular traffic on the weekends through October 31st. A full list of Open Streets is available here.

You Can Rent a Backyard at the South Street Seaport

New York has always been the city where you can have everything, except of course a backyard. The Greens, a new space on the rooftop of Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport is looking to change that. Now, you can rent your own "backyard," a nearly-200-square foot mini lawn complete with a cooler, lounge chairs, a giant projector screen, food and drinks delivered right to you, and lawn games like giant jenga and bocce. Reservations at The Greens are free, but require a $1 booking fee, which will be donated to charity. A reservation will be tough to come by, but they'll be available from 11am to 11pm every day here

Struggling Event Venues Look for Options

Without concerts, weddings, corporate events and fundraisers, it's no surprise that event spaces across the city have been struggling to stay afloat. From super-luxe wedding venues like Gotham Hall, the Plaza and the Rainbow Room to hotel ballrooms and restaurant party rooms, owners and organizers are looking for any way to bring in revenue to remain open. While some rally and hold out hope for stimulus from the federal or state government, others are working on adapting to be able to host much smaller capacity events once they get the go-ahead from the governor. Venues that would normally host as many as 300 people are looking for ways to break even hosting events for 25. Another surprising option is to rent the space to schools. The city has put out a call for proposals to lease space for public school children to the tune of $40 per child per day, and venue owners are optimistic they can get even higher offers from private schools and colleges. Gotham Hall's Managing Director Allan Kurtz told the NY Post, "We can set up a lecture hall for 200 people." While it may not bring in as much as a wedding with a six-digit price tag, it may be enough to keep the lights on - and help schools reach their goals of reducing capacity. 

Updated July 31st, 2020: 

MTA Adds Mask Dispensers to Buses

Continuing their efforts to make masks available to any straphanger who needs one, the MTA has added mask dispensers to 100 buses in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. They plan to continue to roll out the dispensers to as many as 400 buses along 20 routes across all five boroughs by next month. Each dispenser contains 50 free surgical masks that are available to anyone who may have forgotten their own. They will be refilled daily as necessary. According to Craig Cipriano, the president of the MTA Bus Company, ""When you wear a face covering on public transit you're doing so out of respect for your fellow passengers and the health and safety of our bus operators. Plus it's the law."

"Confusing and Absolutely Frightening" Plan to Reopen Schools

Yesterday, the city released a plan to reopen schools, which a faction of the United Teachers Federation immediately tweeted was "confusing and absolutely frightening." The new official plan, developed in collaboration between the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Health + Hospitals and the NYC Test + Trace Corps., calls for all faculty to be tested within 72 hours of the yet-to-be-announced first day of school, sets guidelines for extensive cleaning procedures, and outlines various procedures for classroom and full school closures in various infection scenarios. Critics fear that this model will lead to a "stop-and-start" system that ping-pongs between remote and in person learning in a way that leads to more confusion. There are also concerns from the teachers custodial engineers unions that city schools will not be able to maintain the expected levels of cleanliness, and that the Department of Education simply doesn't have the funds to ensure that school buildings are properly adapted and cleaned to make a full return to school safe. 

Mayor de Blasio added additional criteria for the opening today, saying that school openings would be delayed if the city's infection rate crosses the 3% threshold. According to Governor Cuomo's guidelines, regions must maintain an infection rate under 5%, but the mayor decided to lower the threshold given the nature of the city's crowding and transportation systems. The city has maintained an infection rate under 3% since early June.

Wave Hill Gardens Reopen

The sprawling public gardens of Wave Hill reopened yesterday, providing a quiet oasis to Bronx residents. The 28-acre gardens will be open from Thursday through Sunday each week, but will require advance registration here. Admission will be free for the first two weeks, and face masks will required for entry and to use the restrooms, but they may be removed throughout the gardens as long as social distance is possible. 

Updated July 29th, 2020: 

12 More Queens Bars Suspended for Social Distance Violations

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo continued his string of enforcement on bars caught violating social distancing protocols, as 12 more establishments in Queens had their liquor licenses suspended. At a press conference on Monday, the governor said, "I want establishments to know that we will continue to diligently enforce the law. That’s what this is—it’s enforcing the law."

A full list of bars and restaurants that had their liquor licenses suspended is available here.

Subway Fare and Property Tax Hikes Feared, More States Added to Travel Restriction List

Five new states and territories have been added to New York State's Travel Restriction list, including Illinois, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and Kentucky. The list now covers more than half of the country, a total of 36 states from which visitors must quarantine for 14 days when arriving in the state. Governor Cuomo said on Monday that the Port Authority police and other enforcement agencies have begun issuing fines and summonses for travelers who refuse to fill out a form that specifies their travel information, including where they will be quarantining, and have been following up with travelers randomly by phone and in person. 

The Governor also said that without state and local aid from the federal government, New Yorkers will feel dramatic effects from the state's $13 billion budget shortfall. These include potential spikes in property taxes, fare hikes on the subway and LIRR, and dramatic cuts to education budgets. The governor rallied for NY senators and representatives to push hard on a federal stimulus bill that will provide aid for the state.

Chainsmokers Drive-In Concert Draws Ire from State Officials

On Saturday, The Chainsmokers held a large scale drive-in concert in Southampton that has drawn severe criticism from state officials over the apparent lack of social distancing at the event. The concert organizers, The Know Experience, say that there were strict rules in place requiring all attendees to monitor their temperature in advance of the show, report if they had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and remain in their cars the entire time except to use the bathroom. However, social posts and videos from the event show thousands of people out of their cars and crowding around the stage. Dr. Howard Zucker, the NYS health commissioner, said that the event never should have happened in the first place, as the state has forbidden non-essential gatherings of more than 50 people. He also stated in a letter to the Southampton Town Supervisor , "I am at a loss as to how the Town of Southampton could have issued a permit for such an event, how they believed it was legal and not an obvious public health threat." Governor Cuomo added yesterday that the state would be conducting a full investigation of the reported violations at the concert.

Updated July 27th, 2020: 

SLA Cites 105 Violations, Suspends Licenses for 6 More Bars

Over the weekend, the State Liquor Authority has cited 105 NYC and Long Island bars and restaurants for social distancing violations. The SLA also suspended the liquor licenses for six more bars in the city late last week, which brings the number of downstate bars whose licenses have been suspended up to ten. Governor Cuomo promised more information to come this week about suspensions for the 105 establishments cited over the weekend. 

Pools Open During Heat Wave

As the city sweats through yet another summer heat wave, several pools across the city are opening to help keep us cool. Mayor de Blasio previously cleared 15 city pools to open, and on Friday, eight of those  pools across the five boroughs opened their doors, and seven more will follow on Saturday, August 1st. A full list of open pools and hours are available here.

City Adds 1.7 Miles of Open Streets, Closes 2.7 Miles of Previously Opened Streets

On Friday, Mayor de Blasio announced that the city would be adding 1.72 miles of Open Streets to help New Yorkers get outside with plenty of room for social distancing. However, along with the announcement came the news that the city would be returning 2.77 miles of streets that had previously been part of the program to vehicular traffic. The mayor is also bringing back the city's Play Streets program, which will use the open streets to provide safe play areas for children, providing sports equipment and games for local kids especially around NYCHA developments. More information, including a list of open streets, is available here

Updated July 22nd, 2020:

State Begins Suspending Liquor Licenses

This week, the State Liquor Authority began following through with Governor Cuomo's threat to suspend liquor licenses from New York Bars that ignore social distancing protocols and regulations. Brik Bar and M.I.A. in Astoria and Maspeth Pizza have all joined the White Horse Tavern and had their licenses suspended, as has a strip club on Long Island. The governor continued to take a hard line approach to bars that host crowds of people, indoors or out, saying on Twitter yesterday, "Let's be clear. Outdoor dining is permitted statewide. Outside drinking is not."

Two New Drive Ins Open in the City

Last week, Brooklyn welcomed a new drive in theater, courtesy of Rooftop Films. Yesterday the long-time city cinema favorite announced a second location to open next month in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The Queens Drive-In will be co-hosted by the New York Hall of Science and the Museum of the Moving Image, and will be located on the grounds of the New York Hall of Science. 

Updated July 21st, 2020:

Governor Cuomo Adds 10 More States to Mandatory Quarantine List

Governor Cuomo announced this morning in conjunction with New Jersey and Connecticut that ten more states are now under the mandatory 14-day quarantine restriction. The new states include Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, and Washington making a total of 31 states. This news comes off the heels of last week's new enforcement measures (outlined under the July 14th update below) introduced by the Governor to hold travelers accountable. See here for a full list of restricted states and more info.

Updated July 20th, 2020:

Phase 4 Starts Today

The city officially entered Phase Four of Governor Cuomo's reopening plan today. While the majority of indoor businesses expected to open have been removed from the list, New Yorkers will soon be able to enjoy a myriad of outdoor arts and entertainment venues, including zoos, botanic gardens and historic city landmarks. Malls, gyms, movie theaters, indoor museums and more will have to wait until further notice to reopen. 

Baseball is Back

On Saturday night, the Mets and Yankees faced off in the city's first baseball game of 2020. The spring training exhibition game at Citi Field was played without fans, although the Mets have begun selling cardboard cutouts so that die-hard fans can get themselves in the stands. The MLB's condensed, 60-game season will officially begin on Thursday, July 23rd, so the Met's won't have to worry about their defeat this weekend affecting the standings. 

40 New Open Restaurants Streets, Program Extended to October

On Friday, Mayor de Blasio announced that he would add 40 new streets to the city's Open Streets/Open Restaurants plan, citing massive success in bringing back jobs and maintaining safety through the outdoor dining initiative. He also extended the program until October 31st, so New Yorkers will be able to dine outside well into autumn. A full list of open streets added is available here.

Updated July 17th, 2020: 

Cuomo Introduces 3-Strike Policy for Bars and Restaurants Violating Distancing Policies

According to Governor Cuomo,  "The state has looked at over 5,000 establishments in downstate New York and found many cases of failure to comply. It's wrong, it's dangerous, it's selfish and it's also illegal." To address these violations, the governor introduced a new 3-strike policy yesterday that will force bars and restaurants found guilty of repeated infractions to close. The governor also stated that serving to-go drinks and cocktails without food would not be tolerated. This was already the State Liquor Authority's rule, but the governor specified that it was going to be enforced in earnest going forward. These actions are all being put in place in order to curb crowds of people outside of many establishments, where social distancing is not possible to enforce as it is when patrons sit at tables that are placed strategically to ensure six feet of distance between groups.

Teachers Union Weighs in on School Reopening

Michael Mulgrew, the head of the United Federation Teachers Union, made it clear yesterday that he was prepared to use the strength of his powerful union to make sure that schools that pose a strong risk of spreading the coronavirus will not open. While he noted that we were still a long way from September and things could change, he stated, "..if you asked me right now, if the school system is going to open in September, I would say 60%, that we'd be fully remote."

Updated July 16th, 2020: 

Phase 4 Likely Starts Monday, Without Indoor Openings

Governor Cuomo announced this morning that New York City was on track to enter Phase Four of reopening on Monday. However, in a similar move to how the city entered Phase 3 without indoor dining, the city will not allow any additional indoor facilities like malls and museums to open. Outdoor arts and recreation spaces like zoos and botanic gardens will open as planned, but the governor did not give a timeline on when museums and other indoor spaces will be allowed to resume their normal activities. He did, however, mention that the Met could continue its plans to reopen starting on August 29th, but did say "we'll see" about how feasible that reopening looks when the time comes.

Rent Assistance Applications Open Today

Applications for the New York State COVID Rental Assistance Program went live today. Eligible New Yorkers will be able to receive a one time subsidy to help cover their rent, paid directly to landlords and housing providers. The funds for the program come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, part of the CARES Act. The funding will only be accessible to New Yorkers who earned less than 80% of the median household income in their county before the pandemic, and will cover the difference in the burden of rent based on COVID-related economic strain, not the full value of the rent. The application will only be available for two weeks.Check out the state's website to learn more about the program, and to find out if you qualify.

Iconic NYC Landmarks to Open with Phase 4

As the city prepares to enter Phase 4 on Monday, several major city landmarks have shown their intention to open to the public. Liberty Island, Ellis Island, and the Empire State Building Observatory are all expected to open next week. Of course, visitors will have to comply with strict social distancing measures, including mandatory face masks on ferries to the islands (face masks are expected to be highly recommended, but not required once visitors arrive on the islands). Indoor access and tours of the Statue of Liberty itself will not open until further notice.

Updated July 15th, 2020: 

New York Extends Unemployment Coverage

The New York State Department of Labor has extended benefits for state unemployment insurance from 26 weeks up to 59 weeks. Now, New Yorkers who are out of work will be able to rely on state unemployment checks for more than twice the previous duration. The extension only applies to state unemployment, not the additional $600 that the federal government has been providing per week, which is set to expire at the end of July. Workers who receive coverage under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program but not traditional unemployment benefits will not be eligible for the extension either, although that program does cover up to 46 weeks of benefits.

Hudson Yards Plans Reopening

Hudson Yards is preparing to reopen their shopping center, along with their major attractions, the Vessel and the Edge observation deck. They are working closely with the Mount Sinai Health System to ensure the city's newest observation deck, the highest in the western hemisphere, remains safe for visitors by exceeding the minimum capacity and sanitization guidelines imposed by the city and state. The facilities when New York City enters Phase Four of reopening, tentatively scheduled for July 20th. They will also offer free admission to all healthcare workers and paramedics for the rest of the year.

Cuomo Expands Travel Restriction List

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo expanded New York's travel restriction, adding Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Mexico to the list of restricted states. Visitors from these states, or any of the other states on the list that already included Florida, California and many more, must quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in New York. There is some good news, as Delaware just became the first state to be removed from the list.

Updated July 14th, 2020: 

Cuomo Announces "Travel Enforcement Operation"

New enforcement for the state's restrictions on travel from COVID-19 hotspots starts today, with enforcement teams meeting flight arrivals at the gate to ensure all arrivals who have been to flagged states fill out the DOH traveler form. Travelers who do not complete the form will be subject to a $2000 fine and may be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete mandatory quarantine. Traveling by car or train from a flagged state? You're still required to fill out the DOH travel form online. More information on the enforcement measures is available here.

State Criteria for Schools to Open

After responding to Mayor de Blasio's school opening plan by clarifying the state would have the final say last week, Governor Cuomo shared some concrete criteria to reopen the state's schools. Recently state positivity rates have bounced between 1 and 2%.

Updated July 13th, 2020: 

Beach Concession Stands Open

This weekend, Governor Cuomo allowed concession stands at all state beaches to open. As always, the concessionaires must adhere to social distancing protocols. The prospect of fried food and ice cold beverages is just one more reason for New Yorkers to take advantage of nearby beaches as a relatively safe activity. According to the governor, "We made this decision based on facts and science, and in recognition that these concessions are largely outdoors and are similar to other businesses we have allowed to open with precautions as part of NY Forward." 

New Farmers Market in Williamsburg

A brand new farmers market opened on Sunday in Williamsburg's Domino Park. The new market is on the smaller side, but features all of the essentials including fresh produce, bread milk, cheese and other dairy products and cut flowers, and will be open on Sundays from 9am to 3pm through November. Especially in the age of coronavirus, farmers markets have been hailed as great alternatives to traditional supermarkets since they allow shoppers to access fresh food in an outdoor environment that is more conducive to social distancing. 

Updated July 10th, 2020: 

NYC Cancels Large Events Through September

Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio announced that permits for all large events in the city would be cancelled through September 30th, effectively banning parades, outdoor concerts and street fairs for the rest of the summer. The ban will not include protests, religious gatherings, or press conferences, but does unfortunately spell the end for this year's West Indian Day Parade and the Feast of San Gennaro. 

Smaller events that take up less than one block, do not require amplification for sound and video, and do not interfere with the city's Open Streets program can still apply for permits.

White Horse Tavern Has License Suspended After Repeat Violations

On Wednesday, the State Liquor Authority suspended the historic White Horse Tavern's liquor license due to repeat violations of the governor's executive orders on social distancing. According to the SLA, they received reports of violations as early as June 6th that the tavern had as many as 100 people gathered outside, had set up an illegal bar, and was playing music to entertain patrons. The tavern also received several warnings and citations for serving alcohol without food, operating after mandated hours, and failure to supervise their premises. All told, the tavern was charged with 30 violations before their license was suspended. The tavern's case will be reviewed in court, but the suspension will remain in place until the SLA or a court changes their decision.

NY Gym Owners Sue Over Closures

Gym owners across the state have filed a class action lawsuit against Governor Cuomo, the Attorney General, and the State of New York over the governor's decision to remove gyms from the list of businesses allowed to reopen in Phase Four. The plaintiffs allege that the governor's ban constitutes unlawful seizure of private property for public use, as the gyms were forced to close for the public good of preventing the spread of the virus. They claim that they should be compensated for being forced to closed, and that many of their businesses will be forced to close if they are not allowed to open.

Updated July 9th, 2020: 

WCS Parks (Zoos & Aquariums) to Open Soon

The Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and NY Aquarium are opening soon! Members can get tickets starting July 20th, with guest admission available starting on the 24th. There will also be some new changes in place to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy, including a new entry system where visitors will be required to reserve a date and time for their visit through September 7. Plus, masks will be required and sanitizing stations will be available throughout the park. If you are a healthcare worker, admission will be free to any of the five wildlife parks through Labor Day.

Mayor, DOE Unveil Plans for 20-21 School Year

Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza unveiled a plan to reopen public schools with a "blended learning" model for the 2020-2021 school year. According to the new guidelines, individual schools will be able to select from two potential models, one which involves separating students into two cohorts, and one that involves three cohorts, in order to offer a mix of in-person and online classes without over crowding school buildings. Students and teachers will also have the option to go fully remote. More information about the plan, sample schedules, and cleaning procedures are available here.

The plan must still be approved by Governor Cuomo in order to go into effect. The governor is currently accepting proposals from all of the school districts in the state until July 31st, and is expected to make a final decision by August 7th.

 Dekalb Market, Museum of the City of New York Reopen

The return to normalcy continues this week with the addition of two major city institutions. The Museum of the City of New York is preparing to open its doors at the end of the month, and Dekalb Market unveiled a new outdoor market presence earlier this week. 

At Albee Square, the newly reopened Dekalb Open Air Market features several ordering stands, where restaurants from the subterranean Dekalb Market can process takeout orders, which are prepared in kitchens downstairs and delivered to customers without the need to enter the building. There are currently six vendors participating, with more to come soon.

The Museum of the City of New York joined the New York Historical Society and the Met yesterday when it unveiled its own plans to reopen. Starting July 23rd (assuming the city does not see a spike in coronavirus cases), the museum will open its doors five days a week, with safety protocols including a 25% capacity limit, one way staircases and strict mask requirements. The biggest addition upon reopening? The museum will unveil New York Responds, a new outdoor exhibit that showcases the city during the pandemic and documents the Black Lives Matter protest. 

Updated July 8th, 2020: 

MTA to Provide Commuter Info Via 9,000 New Digital Screens

The MTA announced yesterday that it will add 9,000 digital screens to subway stations across the city to provide additional information for commuters. The screens come equipped with new software, that will allow the MTA to send location specific news regarding train arrival times, last departure times for lines without 24-hour service, planned and unplanned service changes, and more info about train routes and stops during rush hour and other times with modified service. The MTA also hopes to be able to use the screens to alert riders when platforms are overcrowded before they enter the station, so that they can make a decision about whether or not to enter. The screens are expected to be installed at all 472 NYC subway stations by 2023.

Governors Island Reopening July 15th

Governors Island will officially reopen next week, with a new ferry ticketing system to ensure capacity limits and address access inequality. The island will not allow sports or indoor activities, but encourages "passive" activities like running, biking and walking, and food and beverage vendors will be open. Reservations for ferry tickets can be made online starting Friday with limited spaces to ensure proper social distancing protocols can be enforced. In order to address issues of inequality of access to the public space, the ferries will be free to all residents of the New York City Housing Authority, and ferries will depart from Atlantic Basin in Red Hook instead of the regular Brooklyn Bridge Park pier in Brooklyn on Saturdays and Sundays. More information is available at the Governors Island website here.

Jersey Movie Theaters Sue to Reopen

A group of movie theater chains in New Jersey have filed suit against Governor Phil Murphy for the right to open. The plaintiffs claim that while they support the governor's right to take steps to protect his constituents from the virus, they believe a blanket shutdown of all movie theaters is "neither fair nor reasonable, and is instead a violation of Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights," and called Murphy's plan to allow certain businesses to open while forcing others to remain closed "unconstitutional and unlawful." 

Updated July 7th, 2020: 

Long Island, Hudson Valley Enter Phase Four

As New York City adjusts to life in Phase Three, our neighbors to the north and east are preparing to enter the final phase of Governor Cuomo's four-step reopening plan. The Hudson Valley (labeled as "Mid-Hudson" on the states regional map) entered Phase Four today, and both Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island will join them tomorrow. In Phase Four, residents will be allowed to indulge in low-risk arts and entertainment, and media production and professional sports will be able to reopen, albeit without fans in the stands. And yes, Storm King is considered a low-risk arts destination; one of the largest attractions in the Mid-Hudson region will open starting tomorrow for a members-only week, but will be accessible to the general public starting July 15th.

Connecticut Suspends Reopening

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced yesterday that he is indefinitely suspending his state's reopening procedures. Connecticut was expected to enter the third phase of its reopening plan soon, which would have allowed bars and restaurants to fully reopen, and allow indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people, up from the current limits of 25 people indoor and 100 outdoor. 

New York State Fair Cancelled

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that the annual New York State Fair will be cancelled. The State Fair, which normally brings hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to Syracuse over several weeks from late August through early September, In his statement, the governor said that it was necessary to cancel the fair because the risks are so high, saying, "That makes me personally very unhappy, but that is where we are.”

Updated July 6th, 2020: 

Phase 3 Begins in NYC

Today, New York City entered Phase Three of Governor Cuomo's reopening plan with one notable exception - indoor dining at bars and restaurants will still be prohibited. Phase Three does come with the return of many personal care businesses, including nail and tanning salons, tattoo parlors and more. All of these businesses will require patrons to wear a mask at all times while on the premises. The city is also opening a variety of outdoor facilities, from dog runs to volleyball, tennis and basketball courts. Up until now, phases have progressed roughly every two weeks, but Phase Four, which includes entertainment and arts reopening, will likely be a lot longer away.

22 Streets Added for Outdoor Dining

Mayor de Blasio announced on Thursday that 22 streets across the five boroughs would open for dining as part of his "Open Streets" and "Open Restaurants" plans. The 22 locations will allow restaurants to use additional space on the sidewalk and street for table service, while the remainder of the streets are open for pedestrian traffic. The streets will be closed to vehicles to allow diners to spread out and enjoy the adjacent restaurants from 5pm to 11pm on Fridays, and from 12pm to 11pm over the weekend. A full list of locations is available here.

High Line, 9/11 Memorial Reopen

Yesterday, the 9/11 Memorial opened to the public for the first time since March. The memorial will follow strict guidelines, including making masks required for all visitors, and having hand sanitizer available for anyone, especially those who touch the name plaques.

Further uptown, the High Line also announced its return, opening next Thursday, July 16th. The narrow walkway will become a one-way thoroughfare, requiring all visitors to enter at Gansevoort Street and progress northward to 23rd Street. The north-most section between 23rd Street and Hudson Yards will remain closed for the time being. Visitors will also be required to make a free, timed entry reservation, which will be available on the High Line's website starting July 9th.

Updated July 1st, 2020: 

8 More States Added to List for Mandatory Quarantine

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced eight additional states that qualify for the mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone traveling into New York from COVID-19 hotspots. The eight new states include California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.

The quarantine applies to states that have a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over the same 7-day rolling average.

The full list of states on the travel advisory now includes: 

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

Indoor Dining Postponed Indefinitely

This morning, Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo made the decision to postpone indoor dining in NYC, originally slated to begin in Phase Three, for an indefinite amount of time. The mayor cited data from other states where cases are surging saying, "Indoors is the problem. The science is showing it more and more. We cannot go ahead at this point in time with indoor dining in New York City ... Even a week ago we were hopeful we could but it keeps getting worse and worse around the country."

Cuomo, who stated concern with reopening indoor dining days earlier, added "We are seeing troublesome signs across the country and we should be concerned about them. I am concerned about them." While Phase Three is still set to begin on Monday, including the return of personal care services and basketball, indoor dining will have to wait until Cuomo and de Blasio give the green light. In the meantime, the city is focused on expanding outdoor dining capabilities with "Open Streets" dining still a work in progress.

MTA Installs PPE Vending Machines, Reinstates Fares for Buses

The MTA will begin installing PPE vending machines at 10 subway stations around the city. The machines will offer face masks, wipes, gloves and hand sanitizer, available for purchase individually or in a bundle. The vending machines are located at Union Square, Herald Square, Penn Station, Port Authority, Times Square, Columbus Circle, Atlantic Ave and Roosevelt Ave. The MTA plans to use these initial vending machines as a trial, and will potentially add more based on use. They will continue to distribute free disposable face masks around the system. 

The MTA also announced that they will begin charging for bus rides again starting in August. Fares have been waved throughout the pandemic, and passengers have boarded through the rear doors on buses in order to protect drivers. Soon, protective shields will be installed on all city buses, which will allow riders to board at the front of the bus and pay their fare as normal.

Beaches Open for Swimming Today, 15 Pools Open August 1 

Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday that he plans to open 15 public pools across city by August 1st. The announcement came as part of the mayor's budget proposal, in which he called the pools a "targeted investment." Beaches across the city will also open for swimming today, for anyone who can't wait to get in the water. 

Cuomo Extends Eviction Relief

Yesterday evening, Governor Cuomo signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act into law. The bill, which wad sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, promises to prevent landlords from evicting financially burdened tenants for unpaid rent throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlords will be allowed to file suit to seek payment for unpaid rent, but will not be allowed to remove anyone from their home. Advocates for the bill see this as a meaningful step to protect New Yorkers starting immediately on August 20th, when the existing state moratorium on evictions ends.

Updated June 30th, 2020:

Indoor Dining Could Be Postponed

Spikes in coronavirus cases across the country have added to fears that indoor dining could be responsible for a surge in infections in New York. Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would be sending state police and other officials into the city to observe levels of noncompliance and inform his decision as to whether indoor dining will remain on the table as the city looks to enter Phase Three of reopening next week. The governor will announce his decision tomorrow, Wednesday July 1st. This news comes on the wake of yesterday's announcement from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, which tabled state plans to open indoor dining indefinitely.

Broadway Theaters to Remain Closed Until 2021

Yesterday, the Broadway League announced that all Broadway performances in New York would be suspended for the remainder of the year. The League, which represents theater producers and owners, became one of the first major trade groups to cancel events  in the city on March 12th, when they decided to postpone all live performances until mid April. Since then, they have extended the postponement twice, and have now decided to cancel all performances in 2020, and will issue refunds or exchanges on all tickets sold for shows planned before January 3rd, 2021.

Plans for Bronx Outdoor Dining Haven

The Italian restaurants on Arthur Avenue have long been a destination for both New Yorkers and out-of-towners to enjoy fine food. Now, the Bronx thoroughfare is preparing to dig even further to its Italian roots with a 100 table outdoor dining piazza. The plan, which is still pending, will close three blocks along Arthur Avenue to vehicular traffic on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday evenings and allow restaurants along the strip to serve up to 400 people at tables places along the road starting Friday, July 10th.

NYPL Lions Mask Up

Patience and Fortitude, the two marble lions who line the entrance to the New York Public Library's main branch, have joined the fight against the coronavirus. Yesterday, the two cats donned huge, specially made face masks (which DO cover their noses). The NYPL will open for grab-and-go service on July 13th, and visitors will be required to follow the lions' example and wear a face covering to enter. 

Updated June 29th, 2020: 

Federal Judge: NY Cannot Limit Religious Gatherings While Allowing Protests and Business Reopening

On Friday, Senior U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe ruled that New York State cannot limit religious gatherings while allowing protests and business reopenings. The case was brought to the federal judge on behalf of several Catholic and Jewish representatives from upstate and Brooklyn, and alleged that the governor, mayor, and state Attorney General violated the First Amendment by restricting people's right to worship. In his ruling, Sharpe pointed out that places of worship were treated less favorably than secular activities and limited to 25% capacity, while nonessential businesses across the state were allowed to operate at 50% capacity during Phase Two, and that they were “not justifiably different than houses of worship.”

The ruling is still being reviewed by the mayor and governor's offices, and they have yet to issue a response. 

Updated June 26th, 2020:

Mayor de Blasio Says NYC Phase Three is on Track for July 6th

De Blasio announced yesterday that the city is "on track" to begin Phase Three of the state's reopening plan on July 6th. The final decision has yet to be made as Governor Cuomo has the last say on when regions can proceed to the next phase, but Mayor de Blasio noted, "The data is telling us 'yes' right now." 

Phase Three will allow for indoor dining at restaurants limited to 50% capacity, sports in public facilities including basketball courts and soccer fields, dog runs, and gatherings of up to 25 people.

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver added:

Our parks are hubs for active recreation and we’re excited to welcome all New Yorkers, both human and canine alike, back onto sports courts and dog runs for another safe and fun summer ... We’re committed to maintaining safe green spaces for all to enjoy and encourage visitors to wear a face covering, frequently sanitize their hands, and maintain distance between each other while out in parks.

Cuomo Announces "Random Checks" to Enforce 14-day Quarantine Policy

"If you fly into New York, we'll have your name, we'll know where you're supposed to be staying, there will be random checks," said Governor Cuomo on Thursday in regards to the new 14-day quarantine policy for people coming into New York from designated states where the number of cases is still on the rise. For a list of designated states, see our June 24th update below.

"You fly in here from another state, we know what flight you came in on. And we'll have inspectors who are randomly looking at the names on the list and calling to follow up to make sure you're quarantining. And if you're not you're in violation of the law and you will have a mandatory quarantine, and you'll be fined" added Cuomo.

The fine for violating the quarantine will be anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.

Updated June 25th, 2020:

Libraries and Museums Set Opening Dates

Starting July 13th, libraries across the city will begin to open for grab-and-go service, which they call the "first step in a careful, phased approach to reinstituting service at the city’s physical libraries." A small area in 22 branches across the five boroughs will be open for patrons to pick up and drop off books through orders placed online or over the phone. More information about the open branches and safety protocols is available via the websites for the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library

Some of the city's biggest museums also joined the reopening news, as the New York Historical Society announced that they will open on August 14th, pending approval from city officials. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also set a date for its planned reopening for August 29th. Both the main Fifth Avenue location and the Met Cloisters will open with limited hours and additional restrictions in order to provide a safe environment for visitors. The Met also announced that it will be parting with its modern and contemporary art satellite, the Met Breuer, which it will sublet to the Frick Collection starting in July as the Frick undergoes major construction.

Cuomo Adds 50-Person Gatherings to Phase 4, Leaves Gyms, Malls and Movie Theaters Off Plan

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo added additional information to the state's four-phase reopening plan. He clarified that gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed once regions enter Phase Four, up from 25 people in Phase Three. Churches and religious services will also be allowed to expand their capacity from 25% to 33%. The governor has chosen not to differentiate between indoor and outdoor gatherings, unlike neighbors in New Jersey and Connecticut, which allow outdoor gatherings of up to 250 and 500, respectively. The governor also stated that a decision has not yet been made regarding movie theaters, gyms, and malls, which are not currently part of the fourth phase of reopening.

2020 Marathon Cancelled

The New York Road Runners, organizers of the New York City Marathon, announced yesterday that this year's marathon will be cancelled. The organization said in a statement that they had been optimistic about holding the marathon this year, but ultimately decided that holding the race, which boasts an astounding 50,000 runners from around the world and over one million attendees across the five boroughs posed too much of a safety risk amid a global pandemic. Entrants will be able to receive a refund, or defer their qualification to a race in the next three years. 

Day Camps Cleared to Use City Parks

Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday that the parks department would begin accepting applications from both private and nonprofit day camps to operate within city parks. The mayor said that applications, which normally take 2-3 weeks to process, will be approved within a few days in order to allow day camps to begin operation as soon as possible. The camps must adhere to strict regulations in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but will provide a large influx of much needed childcare options for parents who are returning to work as the city reopens.

Updated June 24th, 2020: 

NYC Beaches Open For Swimming July 1

Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday that city beaches will open for swimming starting next Saturday, July 1st. Lifeguards will be on duty to ensure swimmers safety. The mayor stressed the need to remain vigilant about social distancing protocols, including wearing a mask while at the beach and remaining a minimum of six feet apart even in the water.

Tri-State Governors Confirm Travel Advisory

Today, governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut confirmed a travel advisory mandating a 14-day quarantine for anyone visiting their states from areas where coronavirus cases are surging. The advisory goes into effect at midnight tonight, and will apply to anyone visiting from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah & Washington. The list will be updated on the states' websites, which will be added here once they are live.

City Could Lay Off 22,000 Workers

The city is considering laying off as many as 22,000 workers in order to save $1 billion in expenses as the virus and subsequent lockdowns continue to diminish the city's budget. In April, the city's annual budget dropped from $95 to $89 billion, and today, Mayor de Blasio announced that the budget must be cut again, down to $87 billion. De Blasio said that the city will still need to find ways to cut an additional billion dollars even after layoffs in order to satisfy the budget constrictions if the city does not receive relief funding from the federal government or get permission from the state to borrow the money.

Alternate Side Parking Changes 

Alternate side parking in the city has been suspended through most of the coronavirus pandemic, offering major relief to drivers who normally need to move their cars at least twice a week to accommodate street sweepers. Now, Mayor de Blasio is looking to overhaul the entire system, moving to cleaning streets on a once weekly basis instead of twice a week. Starting next week, alternate side parking will be reinstated (temporarily), but car owners will only need to move their vehicles on the later day posted on alternate side signs. The change will remain in place throughout the summer, whenever alternate side parking is in effect. The mayor said that the city will use this as a trial, and look to make the change permanent depending on the results of the reduced cleaning schedule throughout the summer.

23 More Miles of Open Streets, Cool Streets

Today, Mayor de Blasio announced an expansion of the city's Open Streets program, adding 23 miles of city streets, including 9 miles of protected bike lanes, to the existing 40 miles of streets closed to motorists. The city also announced a new Cool Streets program, which is designed to help New Yorkers in "heat burdened" neighborhoods. Streets in the Cools Streets program will be selected based on shade provided by overhanging trees, and will include sprinkler caps on fire hydrants to help keep residents, especially children, cool during the hot summer days. The mayor also said that he will bring restaurants in to the streets and connect the dots between the Open Streets program and the city's outdoor dining initiatives, with more information coming in the next few days. 

Updated June 23rd, 2020

Cuomo Considers Quarantine for Out-of-State Visitors

As coronavirus cases continue to spike in many parts of the country, Governor Cuomo said that he is considering instituting a mandatory quarantine for visitors arriving in New York from states where infection counts are rising. In order to prevent a backslide, Cuomo said, "we’re seriously considering a quarantine just to make sure that people who come in from states with higher infections don't inadvertently increase our infection rate.”

NJ to Allow Outdoor Gatherings up to 250 People, Open Casinos

Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy increased the maximum capacity of outdoor events in his state from 100 to 250 people. The limit does not apply to political or religious events. Murphy also announced that New Jersey casinos may begin to open at 25% capacity on July 2nd with additional safety protocols in place. 

Updated June 22nd, 2020

Phase Two Starts Today

New York City has officially entered Phase Two of reopening. Starting today, as many as 300,000 New Yorkers will return to work, and we can begin to enjoy outdoor dining at restaurants, haircuts, and a whole lot more. Some notable openings include Bronx Brewery's backyard opening today and Elsewhere's rooftop opening on Saturday, both of which will be enforcing social distancing guidelines. In Elsewhere's announcement the venue released the following guidelines:

  • All patrons will be asked to perform a temperature check upon entry, and no patron will be allowed to enter if they have a temperature of 100.4° F or higher
  • All patrons must wear masks at all times except when they are seated
  • All food and beverages must be consumed at your seats
  • More than 50 guests cannot be allowed on the roof at a time
  • Parties must stand in queue 6 ft. apart (spacing will be indicated on the ground)
  • Patrons cannot be within 100 ft. of the exterior of Elsewhere without masks and cannot congregate in large groups
  • Patrons cannot consumer alcoholic beverages on the street
  • We encourage customers to plan ahead by using our digital ticketing system rather than paper tickets.
  • We encourage customers to use our cashless and contactless payment system.

Bronx Brewery released this graphic detailing how they plan to keep everyone safe:

For a full list of businesses allowed to open in Phase Two, see below.

Catholic Churches to Open in Brooklyn and Queens

The Diocese of Brooklyn announced this weekend that they will begin reopening churches in Brooklyn and Queens for masses this week. While places of worship of all faiths are eligible to open at a reduced capacity as Phase Two begins, the Catholic Church is the first large community of faith to make a statement about their reopening procedures. Weekday masses will resume on Friday, June 29th, and weekend masses will follow starting on Saturday, July 4th. The church has also issued additional guidance on procedures regarding communion, including mandating face coverings when approaching a priest to receive the Host, and a moratorium on communion wine. The Archdiocese of New York has not yet made a statement regarding when churches across the rest of the city will open.

Updated June 19th, 2020

NYC Will Officially Move to Phase Two on Monday

"We've done the impossible" said Governor Cuomo in this morning's announcement confirming Monday as the official start of Phase Two for NYC. The next phase will include opening outdoor seating for restaurants (albeit, with some complications - see below), salons and barber shops, playgrounds and pools, in-store retail and more. As many as 300,000 more New Yorkers are expected to head back to work on Monday. Here is a bulleted list of what can open in Phase Two:

  • In-person retail operations
  • All business activities where the core function takes place within an office setting
  • Vehicle sales, leases, and rental activities statewide
  • Retail rental, repair, and cleaning activities
  • Playgrounds and pools at local governments' discretion
  • Commercial, non-residential building management activities
  • Hair salons and barbershops. This does not include nail salons, tattoo parlors, or any other non-haircutting-related personal care services or activities, like beard trimming, nose hair trimming, facials, manicures/pedicures, makeup application, threading, tweezing, or waxing.
  • Real estate activities
  • Outdoor dining

"Open Streets" Seating Won't Start with Phase Two Launch

Phase Two begins Monday, however, the city's "Open Streets" seating plan won't begin with it. While Phase Two includes outdoor dining, the planned expansion of outdoor seating into closed-to-traffic streets and plazas won't start until July. The news is not entirely surprising, as hospitality insiders and the city council had been voicing concerns about the lack of preparedness and information available regarding the plan over the past couple weeks. Applications for "Open Streets" seating will finally begin today, amidst concern that immediate restaurant openings without the program up and running will only create more of the unsafe sidewalk crowding that occurred last weekend.

Existing outdoor seating, like backyards, patios and existing sidewalk seating, is set to return with the start of Phase Two, along with new "curb lane" seating separated from traffic by barriers. Restaurants can also request seating in plazas through their local Business Improvement Districts. 

Colleges Can Hold "Face to Face" Classes This Fall

Governor Cuomo confirmed that some some measure of in-person learning will be cleared to occur at New York's colleges and universities this fall. NYU and Columbia have both previously issued statements of intent to continue face to face learning this year, while the CUNY system has told staff to prepare for a "primarily virtual Fall 2020." Specifics are still in development.

Updated June 18th, 2020

NYC Playgrounds Will Open on Monday June 22nd

This morning, the mayor announced that the city's playgrounds will reopen on Monday. Social Distancing Ambassadors will monitor the playgrounds to remind people to stay 6 feet apart, hand out face coverings and provide reminders about hygiene rules. Playgrounds have been closed by Governor Cuomo's order since April 1st. Team sports are still not allowed, so hoopers will need to keep working on your handles until we can get some shots up.

The news is a welcome relief for parents across the city at a loss for ways to entertain children, especially with school years over or ending soon. 

One Year Rent Freeze for Rent-Regulated Tenants

The Rent Guidelines Board approved a one year rent freeze and 1% increase on the second year of two-year leases. Taking effect October 1st, the freeze will keep rent prices from increasing for two million New Yorkers. Landlords were fighting to increase rent by 2% on one-year leases and 5% on two-year leases. It's a light win for tenant advocates, but a far cry from the full freeze, forgiveness or decreases that many residents hit hard by the pandemic have been hoping for.

Updated June 17th, 2020

US Open, Hot Dog Eating Contest to Go On Without Spectators

With much of this year still in limbo, we can take solace in the fact that two landmark summer events will still go on in the city, albeit without their normal crowds. The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Fourth of July and the US Open in August both announced that they will indeed go on as scheduled, and fans will be able to watch from home but not in person. There's nothing in the world that will make you feel better about your quarantine eating habits than watching Joey Chestnut devour 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes. 

Confusion Around Phase 2 in NYC

Less than a week away from the projected start of Phase 2, New Yorkers still have a lot of questions. Phase 2 is tentatively scheduled to begin on June 22nd, assuming indicators of the spread of the virus remain positive. However, Mayor de Blasio said in a statement yesterday that he wanted to keep expectations low, and did not anticipate moving into the next stage of reopening until early July. The official notice on when the city will begin Phase 2 is not expected until the 22nd, which will likely leave restaurants with outdoor seating and other businesses allowed to reopen scrambling to make last minute plans. Additional guidance has not yet been provided to industry leaders, who claim they are still lacking information about regulations for reopening.

Updated 2:13pm: Governor Cuomo said in his press conference today that New York City is currently on track to begin Phase 2 on June 22nd, but more information is still needed. The mayor and governor will make the decision to open together, pending more information regarding the impact ongoing protests and Phase 1 reopenings have on the spread of the virus.

Hospitals Cleared to Allow Visitors

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that he was lifting the ban on non-medical visitors to hospitals and group homes across the state. Visitation policies will be at the discretion of the facilities, but hospitals in every region of the state will be allowed to accept visitors immediately, and group homes can resume visitation on Friday. Nursing homes were left off of the order, as the governor said he did not believe "the reward justifies the risk at this point.”

Updated June 16th, 2020

Nassau Coliseum Closes Indefinitely

Today, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum operator Mikhail Prokhorov announced that the venue would close indefinitely. Porkhorov's Onexim Sports and Entertainment group, which runs the venue on behalf of Nassau County, currently holds a 49-year lease on the arena. They will close the venue while seeking new investors, who will have the opportunity to assume the lease in exchange for taking on approximately $100 million in loans owed by the venue. While it's unclear when the county will be able to find a new investor to run the arena, it does look like the Islanders may be heading back to Brooklyn as they await the completion of their new Belmont Arena, currently expected in time for the 2021-2022 season.

Updated June 15th, 2020

Cuomo Warns "Don't Make Me Come Down There"

The Governor is NOT happy with reports and video of large crowds on non-socially distanced, unmasked New Yorkers crowded around bars and restaurants that came out throughout the weekend. After receiving 25,000 complaints against businesses ignoring re-opening rules, mostly from Manhattan and the Hamptons, Cuomo took a strong stance on enforcing scofflaws, including both individuals and businesses, by insisting on better local enforcement of mask wearing and social-distancing and threatening to revoke the liquor licensing for non-compliant bars and restaurants. 

Cuomo warned that without better enforcement from local government, the state could intervene and re-PAUSE problematic localities, including Manhattan. City Hall responded, saying "imprisoning people" isn't the answer and pointing to outreach to restaurants/bars and "social distancing" ambassadors distributing masks and encouraging crowds to disperse, but did not address why there was little-to-no enforcement happening in the concerning videos and reports of thousands of unmasked day drinkers in close proximity in the streets this weekend. 

Protest organizers and advocates also responded to the videos, with many pointing out that any uptick in cases would likely be attributed to protests despite the reckless exposure outside bars shown in the videos.

NY State Camps Won't Open, But Youth Sports Will Resume

Sleepaway camps in New York won't open this summer due to concerns around COVID-19 and the related MIS-C condition that has afflicted some children who had coronavirus, including three deaths, as well as proximity issues and the feasibility of social distancing enforcement. Day camps can start re-opening in the state on June 29th.

Cuomo also clarified where youth sports fall on the re-opening timeline, grouping low-contact sports like baseball, softball and gymnastics in phase 3. 

Updated June 12th, 2020 

State Clears Pools & Playgrounds to Open 

Governor Cuomo gave local authorities the all-clear to open pools and playgrounds at their discretion yesterday. Mayor de Blasio responded to questions about beaches and pools by saying the city is not ready yet, but suggested officials would move quickly once they deemed it safe to allow swimming. Mask-wearing and social distancing measures will be enforced once pools open. There is no update from the city on when pools and playgrounds in NYC might open, but de Blasio has hinted at pools and beaches opening for swimming at some point this summer. In a similar response regarding playgrounds, the mayor said, “We are watching health indicators closely and simultaneously working on a plan so when it’s safe to open playgrounds, we can.”

Guidelines for Safe Sex During the Pandemic

NYC Health issued guidance for safe sex during the pandemic. It's important, but it's also pretty funny. Here are some highlights:

- "Face masks are encouraged, kissing is discouraged."

- "Go with a consistent sex partner."

- "If two is company then three (or more) is definitely a crowd."

- "Feces (poop)" can transmit COVID-19 so "Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread the virus."

- "Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact."

-  Standard safe sex practices like condoms and dental dams are highly encouraged.

- "Masturbate together. Use physical distance and face coverings to reduce the risk."

View the full guidelines here.

City Launches $3mm Grant Program For Restaurants

Small restaurants in neighborhoods hit hard by COVID-19 are eligible for a $30,000 grant to support payroll. 100 restaurants will receive the grants, which are intended to employ 1,000 restaurant workers at $20/hour. The plan has received some criticism, both for its limited scope (there are 26,000 restaurants in NYC) and the potential long-term hazards restaurants face from accepting a grant which would pay restaurant workers above the $15/hour minimum wage. Executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance Andrew Rigie summed it up as "dangling short term monetary relief to financially devastated restaurants in exchange for long term financial disaster, by forcing them to sign on to their misleading wage campaign."

Updated June 10th, 2020

Restaurant Reopening Plans Revealed

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo revealed more details for restaurants and bars resuming indoor dining business as part of Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan. According to the new guidelines, establishments will be able to open at 50% capacity, provided tables are placed at least 6 feet apart or have a divider placed between them. Groups will also be limited to 10 people, but do not necessarily need to be from the same household. While many restaurants will face serious hardship while operating at only 50% capacity, the number is higher than the 30% that was initially expected. More information about the reopening plan, including details about restaurant requirements, is available here.

MTA Ridership Jumps with Reopening

As the city entered Phase 1 of reopening on Monday, bus and subway ridership leapt by over 200,000 over the previous week as a new group of workers got back to their daily commute. In total, over 800,000 New Yorkers rode the subway on Monday. While that's still a far cry from the 5.7 million rides the MTA expects on an average weekday, NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said "It was an important day for New York to feel like its bouncing back a little bit there was a real spring in people’s step, there was a bustle about the system."

While subway ridership was up to 15% of their normal capacity, busses were up to nearly 40%  of their regular ridership. Mayor de Blasio announced that the city would be adding 20 additional miles of bus lanes across the city to accommodate the increase in ridership while ensuring social distancing goals are attainable on the busses. The addition falls short of the MTA's initial request of 60 miles of new bus lanes. More information about new bus lanes is available here.

DOE Plans for September School Opening

Yesterday, New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza sent an email to principals and other school administrators outlining a variety of options that the Department of Education were considering to reopen schools, saying, "since we cannot yet predict what September will look like, we can—and we must—be prepared for a range of possibilities." 

So far, those possibilities largely rest on a "blended learning" system that integrates in-person and online classes, as well as a potential to stagger class schedules and school opening times in order to reduce crowding in school buildings. 

Updated June 8th, 2020

Phase One Begins Today

New York City enters phase one today as part of the four-phase reopening plan set forth by Governor Cuomo. In this phase, as many as 400,000 people are expected to get back to work including construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain as well as select retail for curbside pickup. If you're wondering what "select retail" includes, expect to see the following:

- Clothing stores

- Direct selling establishments

- Electronics and appliance stores

- Electronic shopping and mail-order houses

- Furniture and home furnishing stores

- Florists

- General merchandise stores

- Health and personal care stores

- Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores

- Lawn and garden supplies stores

- Office supplies, stationery, and gift stores

- Used merchandise stores

- Shoe stores

- Sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstores

- Other miscellaneous store retailers

For a detailed list of other doors opening up in the construction, manufacturing and wholesale industries, check out this article.

The MTA will be preparing for more commuters with a 13-point action plan to help reduce the risk. See the plan here:

Photo: MTA

While the MTA is planning on returning to normal, the overnight shutdown between 1am and 5am is still in effect.

As workers go back to their jobs, there will be many new protocols they will be required to adhere to as presented in this list of mandatory and recommended best practices created by New York State, including social distancing floor markers, mandatory cleaning after every shift, one person per elevator and more.

After two weeks the city will review its statistics to make sure they are still hitting the state-mandated benchmarks before they can approve the beginning of phase two. The graphic below explains which industries are set to reopen in each phase. However, things are subject to change as we've already seen outdoor dining move up to phase two from its previously scheduled spot in phase three.

Photo: Governor Cuomo's Office

Updated June 5th, 2020

No New COVID-19 Reported Deaths on Wednesday

The city reported no new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday for the first time since March 12th. While we still have a long way to go in the fight against the virus, this is certainly a happy change from the 500 daily fatalities the city faced in mid-April. 

New Regulations Set for Outdoor Dining

Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday during his press briefing that the city "will provide a massive expansion of curbside seating" for restaurants beginning in phase two of reopening. The new "Open Restaurants" initiative follows the guidelines set forth by the city council last month, and will allow restaurants on the 45 miles of open streets to co-opt the space in front of their business for outdoor seating. The Department of Transportation will also work to identify plazas and parking spaces to use for seating. DoT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said, "We don't want to be heavy-handed. Enforcement will be a light touch." The city will still be enforcing social distancing, requiring tables to be placed six feet apart and all employees to wear face coverings, although diners will not be required to wear masks once they are seated. Phase one is slated to begin on Monday.

Updated June 4th, 2020

Outdoor Dining to Begin in Phase Two

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced restaurants will be permitted to have outdoor seating beginning with Phase Two of reopening. This means that seven regions of New York will begin offering outdoor seating today. NYC can expect to begin phase two toward the end of June depending on how the city's level of COVID-19 cases reacts after Phase One.

New Changes Coming to the MTA

The MTA announced yesterday that it is returning to regular service at the beginning of Phase One along with some changes to help keep New Yorkers safe from the spread of COVID-19. There will be voice messaging reminding commuters that Phase One subway trips are reserved for essential workers and essential trips only. They will also require face coverings and offer, hand sanitizer, masks and PPE in vending machines for those who don't have it. Commuters will also notice new floor markings and platform controllers to encourage social distancing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also suggested a seven-point plan he is requesting the MTA follow:

  • Increase Frequency of Service: Increase frequency significantly during peak hours while limiting the increase in ridership to allow for maximum social distancing. Return to regular rush hour service for Phase 1. The MTA should prepare to accommodate at least another 100,000–200,000 more riders per day.
  • Capacity Limits on Buses/Trains: Limit capacity on buses and trains to allow for social distancing. Skip stops if over capacity.
  • Limit Station/Train Overcrowding: Monitor platform crowding and temporarily close stations when needed during peak hours.
  • Social Distancing Signage/Markers: Clearly mark six feet of distance on platforms, trains and buses. Demarcate specific seats on trains and buses for riders, block off every other seat to maintain social distance.
  • Hand Sanitizing Stations: Install hand sanitizer in all stations and buses, including next to MetroCard vending machines and any other high-touch locations.
  • Face Coverings: Require face coverings for all individuals using subways, buses and trains. Provide face coverings throughout the system to ensure that all riders have them. The city will initially provide one million FREE face coverings, and the MTA and State should match that commitment.
  • Personnel: City will work with MTA to identify personnel to help promote and enforce social distancing.

In response to the plan, a spokesperson for the MTA said, "Like many of the mayor’s ideas — this is nice in theory but utterly unworkable," Abbey Collins, the MTA spokesperson went on to say "The mayor’s plan would allow us to serve only a tiny percentage of our riders - likely around 8%. We look forward to hearing more from the Mayor and NYPD on their plans for enforcement and compliance with this proposal."

Free COVID-19 Testing Expands to All New Yorkers

Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio announced COVID-19 testing will be free and available to all New Yorkers, stating, "Widespread testing holds the key to re-opening our city safely... After months of fighting, we are finally able to say that every New Yorker who needs a test will get one." There are over 150 testing sites in the city now and 36 city-run testing sites offer the free tests on a walk-in basis.

Updated May 29th, 2020

NYC on Track to Begin Reopening June 8th

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that NYC is on track to meet all seven requirements by June for reopening by June 8th according to the plan set forth by the state. Mayor de Blasio stated "people are going to have to improvise" when it comes to making decisions about going out and using the subway. Cuomo also stated, "Remember that reopening does mean we are going back to the way things were," Cuomo said. "Life is not about going back, nobody goes back, we go forward. And it's going to be different. It is reopening to a new normal, a safer normal. People will be wearing masks, people will be socially distant." 

Updated May 28th, 2020

Cuomo OKs Mask Requirements, Will Not Open NYC

Today, Governor Cuomo announced a new executive order which would permit businesses to deny entry to anyone not wearing a face mask or other face covering. In a tweet today, the governor said, "People have a right to jeopardize their own health (I don’t recommend it). People don’t have a right to jeopardize other people’s health."

Today also marks the final day of the NY PAUSE program, which implemented business closures and social distancing guidelines. As the program draws to a close, the state will instead move towards restrictions based on the governor's four-phase reopening plan. While many regions are preparing to enter phase two this weekend, New York City has yet to meet requirements on hospital and ICU bed availability, and will not begin reopening until those requirements are met, regardless of the status of the PAUSE program.

City Council Considers Expanding Outdoor Dining, Caps Third Party Fees

Yesterday, City Council Members Corey Johnson and Antonio Reynoso proposed new legislation in order to expand outdoor dining for city restaurants. According to the councilmen, the bill would go beyond allowing restaurants to serve on the sidewalk immediately outside their buildings, and require the city to identify new locations for service, including streets, closed streets, and other public spaces. They also seek to create a fast and easy permitting process to allow restaurants to quickly take advantage of the program once they are allowed to reopen for dine in service. 

The City Council also approved a bill to cap the fees that third party delivery services could charge to 15%, with an additional cap on other fees at 5%, adding to a total of 20%. The bill is seen as a win for the struggling restaurant industry, which has long stated that the high fees charged by these delivery services cuts into their profitability.

NYPD To Target Congregation Outside Bars 

In keeping with recent remarks against the number of people congregating outside bars across the city, Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday that he has instructed the NYPD to begin targeting such crowds in nine specific neighborhoods, which are deemed "bar heavy." The mayor specifically identified the Upper East Side, East Village, West Village, Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Long Island City, Astoria, Hell's Kitchen, and City Island as targets, but stated that more areas could be added to the list as these congregations appear. The city will also continue to promote its new "Take Out…Don’t Hang Out" publicity campaign, urging New Yorkers to continue to frequent bars for carry out service, but not to hang around and sip their drinks outside of them. 

Updated May 26th, 2020

Governor OKs Gatherings Up to 10 People for "Any Lawful Purpose"

On Friday, a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union prompted Governor Cuomo to sign a new order allowing New Yorkers to gather in groups of up to 10. The suit, brought on behalf of a Manhattan woman who was arrested twice for participating in anti-lockdown protests, claims that the governor's initial order banning gatherings infringed upon citizens' First Amendment Rights to peaceful assembly. The order is intended only to allow groups to assemble to express their rights, and is not intended to be taken as an invitation to host social gatherings. Those who assemble must abide by relevant social distancing guidelines, including wearing face masks and remaining a minimum of six feet apart.

New York State Offers Loans for Businesses Left Out of Federal Relief

New York State has unveiled a new loan program in order to provide assistance for small businesses who were not able to secure funding from Federal Government programs. The New York Forward Loan Fund will provide $100 million in loans to businesses with 20 or fewer employees, or small landlords who own less than 50 rental units. The loans will not be forgivable like the federal PPP or SBA loans, and will instead have to be repaid over a five year period with a low interest rate. Applications open today, May 26th at 12pm. Visit the NYFL site here for more information or to submit your application.

NYC Now the Only Region Yet to Begin Reopening

Over the weekend, the Long Island and Mid-Hudson regions both passed the pre-requisites to begin reopening by midweek, leaving NYC to be the last region still working on passing all seven prerequisites to reopen. It has passed four and is still not passing the percent of open hospital and ICU beds or contact tracers. 

Updated May 22nd, 2020

Proposed Bill Will Allow Booze To-Go To Stay

Yesterday, State Senator Brad Hoylman introduced new legislation to make Governor Cuomo's executive order allowing bars and restaurants to sell to-go drinks permanent in order to help the hospitality industry recover. The bill includes the same restrictions as the governor's original executive order: all drinks must be sold in a sealed container, and must be sold with food.  

Additional Streets Open This Weekend

Mayor de Blasio announced this morning that the city will add another 12 miles of open streets across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. This brings the total to 45 miles of open streets, exceeding the mayor's initial goal of 40 miles for car-free space for pedestrians and bikers to get exercise outside while maintaining social distance. A full list of open streets is available here.

Updated May 20th, 2020

Connecticut Begins Reopening

Today, Connecticut governor Ned Lamont officially lifted his state's Stay-At-Home order, allowing offices, stores, restaurants and more to reopen at 50% capacity with intense cleaning procedures in place. For retail stores, that means limiting entrances and placing social distancing markers around their locations to ensure that people remain six feet apart. For offices, that means requiring all personnel to wear a face covering while at work, except if they are working in an isolated location like a private office. Many companies have also encouraged workers to remain at home if they are able. Restaurants will only be allowed to open outdoor seating areas, and tables must be a minimum of six feet apart. They will also use disposable menus, and must close by 11pm on the weekend and 9pm during the week.

Appeals Court Upholds Decision to Reinstate Presidential Primary

Last month, the New York Board of Elections made the decision to cancel the upcoming Democratic Presidential Primary on the basis of safety, claiming that since Joe Biden was the only candidate remaining in the race, allowing New Yorkers to venture to the polls would be unnecessary and potentially dangerous amidst the spread of the coronavirus. Opponents of this decision, including Andrew Yang who brought forward a suit against the BOE, stated that this action was unconstitutional, and deprived New Yorkers of their essential right to vote for the candidate they believed in and have an impact on the delegates who were sent to the party convention this fall. On May 5th, a federal judge ruled that the cancellation was indeed unconstitutional, and the primary was reinstated. Today, a court of appeals upheld the decision of the lower court, ensuring that New Yorkers would be able to cast their ballot on June 23rd. Governor Cuomo has also issued two executive orders to make it easier for people to vote via absentee ballot and reduce crowding at the polling sites. 

Updated May 18th, 2020

Social Distancing Enforced Across City Parks

This weekend, nice weather brought New Yorkers out in droves to enjoy parks across the city. While most of us have grown accustomed to following social distancing guidelines while sunbathing, this weekend also brought new enforcement in a few parks. In Domino Park in Williamsburg, large circles have been painted across the lawn to illustrate exactly how far people need to stay apart. In Central Park, police closed the gates to the Sheep Meadow around 2:15 on Saturday afternoon in order to limit capacity. 

Mayor to Crack Down on Crowds Outside Bars

Parks were not the only places New Yorkers ventured this weekend. On Saturday, the New York Post reported a wave of people congregating and drinking outside of bars that offer to-go windows, particularly on the Upper East Side and Greenpoint. Mayor de Blasio promised to crack down on this kind of crowding on Sunday, stating, "If a bunch of people are congregating, that's a gathering. What did I say the other day? The NYPD is going to focus its enforcement on gatherings."

Mayor Will Not Reopen Beaches, May Use Fencing to Preserve Closure

Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio reiterated that he will not reopen city beaches for Memorial Day, or any time in the near future. Beaches around the city will remain closed to swimming indefinitely, but are currently open for walking, much like grassy parks around the city. The mayor did say, however, that he has put fencing in reserve, and will use the fences to close off the beaches completely if crowding becomes an issue. 

On Long Island, the city of Long Beach has not yet made a pubic decision about when their beaches will open. Jones Beach will indeed open on Friday with a limited capacity and social distancing measures enforced, as the beach is park of a State Park. Jacob Riis Park will also be open with limitations, and all permanent bathrooms will be closed and replaced with port-a-johns throughout the park.

Updated May 15th, 2020

Governor Extends PAUSE, Opens Beaches

This morning, Governor Cuomo officially extended New York State's PAUSE orders until May 28th. The orders will not apply to the five regions which have met the seven requirements for reopening (The Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and now Central New York), which are proceeding with Phase One of reopening starting today. The governor also stated that the remaining regions of the state, including New York City, will be exempted from the PAUSE orders and eligible to reopen as soon as they meet the requirements concerning infection and death counts, testing, tracing, and hospital availability. 

The Governor also announced today that beaches will indeed be open for Memorial Day. The move comes as part of a joint agreement between New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware, which will all open their state's beaches the Friday of Memorial Day. The beaches will be limited to 50% of their original capacity, and masks will be required where social distancing is not possible. Cities, towns and counties across the state will also be allowed to open their beaches with the same limitations, and can add their own criteria for safety. There is no word as of the time of writing as to whether Mayor de Blasio intends to open New York City beaches.

Updated May 14th, 2020

21 Miles of Streets and Bike Lanes to Open Up

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday the opening of 12 more miles of streets to pedestrians and 9 miles of bike lanes starting today. The new openings will encompass streets in all boroughs and you can see exact locations on the NYC.Gov website. This makes a total of 30 miles of open streets for pedestrians and cyclists. 

North Country Region will Begin Reopening on Friday

The North Country region, which encompasses seven counties and shares a border with Canada, will be the fourth region permitted to reopen on Friday. The county is welcoming the news with caution as Garry Douglas with the North County Chamber of Commerce says, "Before they can reopen, they must have a health and safety plan," when speaking of the phase one businesses that will open first.

Bills Pass to Protect Restaurants

Many restaurants have relied heavily on third-party delivery apps to bring them business during the pandemic, which has forced them to give an extremely high percentage of their profits to these apps. City Councilman Francisco Moya says, "If third-party food apps were nibbling away at neighborhood restaurants before COVID, they're bleeding them dry now." In an effort to protect restaurants, the New York City Council has now passed a bill capping delivery app fees at 20% for deliveries and 10% for app orders. Additionally, they banned the practice of delivery apps charging restaurants for phone calls placed through search engine ads that the apps use, whether or not the phone call results in an order.

In another effort to support local restaurants, the Department of Consumer Affairs waived consent fees for sidewalk cafés from March 1 to May 31, allowing restaurants to provide outdoor seating without any cost. Plus, any fees that have already been collected will be returned to the restaurants.

Additionally, another new bill has passed to the relief of restaurants and other local businesses that protects them from harassment by landlords. If a landlord attempts to threaten their tenant with a number of tactics, they could be faced with a fine up to $50,000. 

To learn more about the bills and protections, head over to Eater for more details.

Updated May 12th, 2020

Three Regions to Begin Reopening on Friday, NYC Still Far Off

As of this morning, three regions in New York State have met all seven of the Governor's requirements to begin phased reopening. The Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier all plan to begin the process of reopening on Friday, when the PAUSE guidelines are set to expire. Two additional regions, Central New York and the North Country, are currently only lacking the testing capacity required, and are expected to meet that requirement soon. 

In the city, however, reopening is not expected for some time. Mayor de Blasio said today that he does not believe New York City will be in a position to start reopening non-essential businesses before June. The city  currently meets only four of the seven requirements to open; despite the decline in cases, the main hold-up is still the lack of available hospital and specifically ICU beds available.

Updated May 11th, 2020

NYPD to Limit Entry to Domino, Hudson River Park

In response to consistent overcrowding in parks on weekends, Mayor de Blasio announced Friday that the NYPD will limit the number of people in Williamsburg's Domino Park and Piers 45 and 46, which includes the Christopher St. Pier. Enforcement started over the weekend, and the Mayor is considering extending the limitations to more parks soon: "We're going to try it a few places where we've had particular problems. It's something we can apply to more and more places if it works."

The police presence will remain "all day" so that at any high point, they can ask people to leave and create space for other parkgoers.

Updated May 8th, 2020

Cuomo Announces Renters Can Pay with Security Deposits

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that New Yorkers will be able to pay their rent with the money they've already given their landlord as a security deposit. Tenants would have to pay the security deposit back over time, but the governor hopes that this move will offer much needed relief to New Yorkers who are currently out of work. 

The governor also extended his moratorium on evictions until August 20th, and banned late fees for payments missed while the moratorium is in effect.

Rent Guidelines Board Votes for Rent Freeze

NYC's Rent Guidelines Board approved a rent freeze for one-year leases in rent stabilized apartments in a preliminary vote. Two year leases would receive a 1% rent increase in the second year. The preliminary vote followed pressure from tenant advocates and elected officials (including the Mayor) to institute a rent freeze. A proposal to reduce rent 2-3% put forth by tenant advocates and another to raise rent but halt increase collections until 2021 by landlord advocates were also up for a vote, but neither passed.

The final vote takes place June 17th, but based on previous years, tenants can expect the final guidelines to fall within the range approved in preliminary voting.

New Jersey Beaches Expected to Open for Memorial Day

As Jersey Shore towns begin to open up, Governor Phil Murphy stated he would be "shocked" if NJ's beaches didn't open by Memorial Day. Comparing them to the state's now open parks and golf courses, Murphy expects similar restrictions like a 50% capacity limitation and maintaining six feet between beachgoers.

Updated May 7th, 2020

Mayor Considers Limiting Entry to Parks

Mayor de Blasio announced in his daily briefing this morning that he is considering limiting access to New York's green spaces as the weather warms up and he anticipates overcrowding. He did not go into much detail but mentioned potential plans to "limit the number of people going in" to parks.

Antibody Testing Expands

Also in his daily briefing, Mayor de Blasio said "we are going to proceed energetically with antibody testing in this city ... Every time someone gets a test it's helping them to have information, and it's helping all of us to get information." There are now free testing centers in five locations with each location in a different borough. Locations include East New York, Upper Manhattan, Morrisania, The Bronx, Concord, Staten Island and Long Island City, Queens. The hotline to set up an appointment will be open beginning Friday and results should be available within 48 hours.

Two More Miles of NYC Streets Open Up

After opening up seven miles of streets on May 2nd, Mayor de Blasio has announced the second wave of open streets starting today. Residents can stretch their legs in different parts of the city including areas of Broadway in Manhattan, Willoughby St in Downtown Brooklyn and in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens. You can see all open streets here.

Updated May 5th, 2020

Federal Judge Reinstates Democratic Primary

The New York State democratic presidential primary is officially back on, thanks to a ruling by Manhattan Federal Court Judge Analisa Torres. The ruling comes as a result of a suit filed by Andrew Yang, which alleged that cancelling the election set a dangerous precedent and deprived New Yorkers of a chance to make their voices heard, even if Joe Biden was the presumptive nominee. In her ruling, Torres stressed the importance of allowing state democrats to cast their vote, as they will affect the representation of the delegates at the party convention even if they do not have an impact on the candidate who will square off against Donald Trump in November. The state Board of Elections has stated that they stand by their previous decision, and may appeal Torres' ruling.

Whether or not the ruling is upheld, elections will still take place in New York on June 23rd in any district where other, local primaries were scheduled to be held. 

Updated May 4th, 2020

Free Face Coverings Being Offered Across NYC

Mayor de Blasio announced Monday that "wherever you turn, you're going to be offered a face covering" over the next month. The city will be dispersing 7.5 million face coverings including 5 million three-ply medical masks and 2.5 million cloth face coverings. You can check this interactive map to find the closest hand-out spot near you.

Gov. Cuomo Reveals 4-Phase Plan to Reopen the State

In the Governor's daily briefing, Cuomo revealed more details about his plan to reopen the state. There will be several prerequisites for each region to begin reopening and which businesses will be allowed to open during each phase once the region meets all criteria. The requirements for reopening from the CDC are as follows:

  1.  Regions must have at least 14 days of decline in total hospitalizations and deaths on a three-day rolling average.
  2.  In regions with few COVID-19 cases, they cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a three-day rolling average.
  3.  A region must have fewer than two new COVID-19 patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day. 
  4.  Regions must have at least 30 percent total hospital and ICU beds available.
  5. Hospitals must have at least 90 days of PPE stockpiled.
  6. 30 tests for every 1,000 residents per month. New York's National Guard made nearly 300,000 testing kits to collect samples. On Monday, 60,000 kits are being sent to labs and hospitals across the state.
  7. Regions must have a baseline of 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, and additional tracers based on the projected number of cases in the region.

Once they meet these criteria, the businesses that can reopen in each phase will include:

Phase One: Construction, manufacturing and supply chain, select retail and curbside pickup.

Phase Two: Professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, real estate and rental leasing.

Phase Three: Restaurants, food services and hotels. 

Phase four: Arts, entertainment, recreation and education.

In addition, businesses must reimagine their operations to be safe and in compliance with new standards.So far, New York City only meets three of the seven requirements. You can see how other regions stand as of May 4th in this chart below.

Photo: @NYGovCuomo

Samaritan's Purse Leaving Central Park

Controversial, openly homophobic Evangelical Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse will be closing down its Central Park field hospital in the next two weeks that was set up to care for patients with COVID-19. The group set up on April 1st and treated 315 patients throughout the month amidst a firestorm of debate. With signs of new cases slowing down, the organization has decided to cease admissions. In a statement, the group said, "While this crisis is far from over, this marks a significant turning point in the coronavirus outbreak in New York that gives us assurance that we are returning towards normalcy." 

Green-Wood Cemetery May be Forced to Close

The spacious cemetery offering residents a calm and beautiful place to pay respects to their loved ones has recently faced trouble with a small group of visitors. They planned to remain open during the pandemic but, due to rule-breakers bringing dogs, riding bikes and even climbing trees, the cemetery has issued a statement that they may be forced to close their gates if this behavior continues. After the cemetery's president Richard J. Moylan issued his statement that the cemetery may close, his call for social distance ambassadors was met with over 100 volunteers. With ample help, the cemetery may be able to keep its gates open but continues to monitor its grounds carefully.

Updated May 1st, 2020

NYS Schools Closed Through End of Academic Year

This morning, Cuomo announced in a tweet that k-12 and collegiate schools across New York State will indeed be closed for the rest of the academic year. The announcement comes as no surprise to most New Yorkers, as Mayor de Blasio has been pushing for closures for weeks, and confirms that distance learning will continue.

Connecticut Plans Next Phase of Reopening on May 20th

While New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have mainly walked the same line of policy to help flatten the curve, CT Governor Ned Lamont has differed from New York recently. With Governor Cuomo announcing PAUSE will extend at least until May 16th, Lamont has sights set on May 20th for phased reopenings. In a tweet from last night, the CT Governor states, "We're looking at May 20 for the next phase of reopening, targeting certain industries, some of which will need modifications to ensure safety measures are in place so we don't cause another spike." These industries include outdoor areas at restaurants and bars; outdoor museums and zoos; offices, retail outlets and boutique shops.

Updated April 30th, 2020

MTA Indefinitely Suspending Overnight Subway Service 

MTA officials announced today that overnight subway service will be suspended beginning May 6th for the duration of the pandemic. While similar shutdowns have rarely taken place in recent memory, such as after the attacks on 9/11, the duration of this shutdown is expected to be unprecedented.  The decision was made to give cleaning crews more time to sanitize the trains.  Plus, it will aid in the Mayor's and Governor's joint effort to reduce the amount of homeless New Yorkers spending the night in subway stations and trains. Governor Cuomo stated there will be a "robust and sustainable" NYPD supervision to keep the homeless out of the stations.

For essential workers and those who need public transportation during overnight hours the MTA is launching a new Essential Connector service to provide transportation during this time. Follow @MTA on Twitter for more updates.

Updated April 29th, 2020

Cuomo Unveils 12-Step Plan To Reopen State

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo unveiled a detailed, 12-step plan to open the state of New York. The plan will allow different regions of the state to open independently, based on local data concerning the spread of the pandemic. Each region must meet several requirements to reopen, including a 14-day drop in hospitalization rates, a minimum of 30% capacity of hospital beds available for new patients, a contact tracing system, and isolation facilities for those unable to self-isolate. Businesses will be able to reopen based on the risk they pose to employees and customers and their essential nature, starting with manufacturing and construction. More information on the plan is available here.

Governor, Mayor Agree to Combat Homelessness on the Subway

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have come to a rare agreement when it comes to the MTA: both leaders say that homelessness has become a major problem on the subway and in stations. Potentially unsafe crowding in the shelter system, coupled with a decline in ridership, has led many homeless to seek shelter in stations. Mayor de Blasio proposed a plan to temporarily close ten stations overnight and send NYPD and homeless outreach workers in to get the homeless into shelters and clean the stations thoroughly. The MTA however, claims that closing the stations will do more harm than good, and prevent essential workers from getting to work for early shifts, or coming home from night shifts. Learn more here.

USNS Comfort Sets Sail Again

Tomorrow, the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort will depart from New York. The ship, which was called in to assist the city's overburdened healthcare system, will leave exactly one month after it arrived and return to its usual home in Norfolk, Virginia to await its next mission. There is currently no plan as to where the ship will be sent next, or whether it will be redeployed in order to combat the coronavirus again in the United States. 

Updated April 28th, 2020

NYC Democratic Presidential Primary Cancelled

On Monday, Democratic officials made the decision to cancel the June 23rd Democratic presidential primary. New York is the first state to make this decision, which caused tension among supporters of Bernie Sanders who were hoping to use the presidential primary as a way to win more delegates for the former presidential candidate. However, the Board of Elections in New York considered the election to be "essentially a beauty contest," as the Vermont senator officially dropped out of the race last month. Primaries will still be held for other elected offices where relevant, but presidential candidates will not appear on the ballot.

NYC Opens Streets for Pedestrians & Cyclists

On Monday, Mayor De Blasio made a statement that he will close 40 miles of NYC streets to traffic in order to allow pedestrians and cyclists to maintain social distancing while getting some fresh air. As the summer approaches, he hopes to expand this initiative to open 100 miles. In his statement, he said, "The City Council came forward with a vision for how we could open up more streets, do it over time, and do it in a way that’s responsive to the core concerns we've heard of the NYPD over safety and enforcement."

He added:

The way we will do it is we're going to focus first on streets in and around our parks. Very concerned about the streets on the outside of parks that oftentimes we're seeing that immediate area getting crowded. That's an obvious opportunity to open up more space...So the focus here will be to focus of course, same as we're doing so many things, on where the need is greatest," 

While explaining his plan further, he noted, "The first priority is the places hardest hit and then where it will have the most impact." 

 To learn more about the city's plan get the full story here.

Updated April 23rd, 2020

Hope for Struggling Restaurants

On Wednesday, the City Council offered a light of hope for the restaurant industry through a series of bills designed to ease the burden that the pandemic has put on our favorite eateries. While nothing has been approved yet, new legislation has been brought forward to pause evictions for both commercial and residential tenants until April 2021, remove fees for operating sidewalk seating, and guarantee sick leave for delivery workers. Bills were also brought forward to bring additional pay for grocery store workers, and to prohibit commercial landlords from harassing tenants for rent. More information about the proposed legislation is available here.

Updated April 20th, 2020

City Events Cancelled Through June

This morning, Mayor de Blasio announced that all city permits for non-essential events through June would be cancelled, including those for the Celebrate Israel and Puerto Rican Day Parades, and the Pride March scheduled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on June 28. The mayor also announced that along with the permits, all concerts, sporting events and other public gatherings would be cancelled while the city continues to work hard to stem the spread of the virus.

Updated April 17th, 2020

PAUSE Extended to May 15th

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that the state's PAUSE program will be extended again until May 15th. Schools and non-essential businesses will remain closed, and social distancing measures will continue to be enforced until then. The governor did however shed light on eventual plans to reopen the state, by slowly rolling back restrictions based on the essential nature and relative danger involved in opening individual industries. 

Advocates Call for Rent Strike

May 1st may be a monumental day for city tenants and landlords. With millions of New Yorkers out of work and unable to pay their rent, the Upstate/Downstate Alliance and the Met Council on Housing are calling for a collective rent strike across the state. The coalition hopes to force the governor to cancel rent and allow tenants to resign their leases for the duration of the crisis. They believe that a "moment of collective noncompliance" will urge the state to bail out landlords, and take the burden off of struggling New Yorkers who have been laid off or furloughed in the wake of the virus.

The Met Council on housing can be reached at (212) 979-0611, and prospective strikers can text "Rent Strike" to 33339. 

Updated April 16th, 2020

Face Masks Now Required

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo stated that he would issue an executive order requiring all New Yorkers to wear a face mask or some kind of face covering whenever they were out in public and not able to properly practice social distancing. That includes busy streets, stores and of course, public transportation. The order will go into effect on Friday at 8pm.

NYC Beaches May Not Open This Summer

The parks department has begun planning for a wide variety of possible scenarios when it comes to opening the beaches this summer, including late openings, select closures, and a full moratorium on sandy sunbathing. Mayor de Blasio warned that social distancing measures may remain in place into August, and the city has yet to begin the search for lifeguards and other personnel required to open the beaches. While a decision has not been made yet as to if or when the beaches will open, the health and safety of New Yorkers remains the most important factor.

Updated April 13th, 2020: 

No concerts until fall 2021? 

This weekend, The New York Times Magazine published an interview with Zeke Emanuel, a bioethicist, oncologist, and senior fellow at the Center For American Progress. Emanuel stated that "restarting the economy has to be done in stages," and that we could not expect to see concerts, sporting events and conferences to return until "fall 2021 at the earliest." An 18-month hiatus would be absolutely devastating to the live music industry, as well as our sanity. We can only hope that his estimate is far off base.

De Blasio calls for a rent freeze

On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the Rent Guidelines Board to freeze rents for all one million rent regulated apartments in the city, preventing landlords from increasing the rent while New Yorkers struggle amidst the coronavirus fallout. He also asked the state to allow all New Yorkers to pay their rent with their security deposits. 

De Blasio and Cuomo spar on school closures

On Saturday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all NYC schools would remain closed for in person instruction through the end of the school year. Governor Andrew Cuomo was quick to respond, stating that he had the ultimate authority on whether New York schools would reopen, and claiming that de Blasio's statement was merely his "opinion." Cuomo hopes to coordinate school re-openings with the rest of the state and the region, including New Jersey and Connecticut. 

Updated April 7th, 2020:

Dog runs and basketball courts closed

Continuing a trend of recreational closures, all city dog parks and dog runs are now officially closed. The Parks Department has also removed basketball rims and nets from tennis courts, and locked all sports courts with gates. Parks and green spaces, as well as soccer fields will remain open for people (and dogs) to get some exercise, but they will be closely monitored in order to ensure visitors are maintaining proper distance. 

Fines double for those not following distancing rules

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced an increase in the maximum fine for violating social distancing guidelines from $500 to $1,000. The Governor said that too many New Yorkers were not taking the rules seriously, and that, “you don’t have the right, frankly, to take health-care staff and people who are literally putting their lives on the line and be cavalier or reckless with them."

"Safe Streets' program suspended

The mayor's office officially suspended the Safe Streets program that launched last weekend. The program was designed to give pedestrians room to walk outside while maintaining distance from one another by closing four streets across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. A spokeswoman for the mayor stated that the program was underutilized, and not enough people were using the open streets to justify the amount of police presence needed to close the streets. 

Updated April 3rd, 2020: 

All city playgrounds closed

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo ordered all city playgrounds to close. The decision was met with support from City Hall, with mayoral spokeswoman Jane Meyer stating, “As the weather warms up, we must act early to limit any possibility of crowding.” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams previously stated that additional closures would be necessary to combat the spread of the virus, including shuttering all city parks and closing additional streets to traffic to allow New Yorkers room to walk while maintaining the minimum of six feet of distance.

City offers free meals for all

Starting today, all New Yorkers will be able to get three meals a day for free. Those in need will be able to pick up breakfast, lunch and dinner at any of 435 sites across the five boroughs, and no one will be turned away. 

For more information about the program and to find a pickup location near you, simply text "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 877-877.

President recommends everyone wear face masks

On Thursday, President Trump said that his administration would soon release a recommendation that all Americans wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the virus. While medical grade masks should be reserved for hospital personnel treating patients, homemade masks and simple coverings as basic as a bandana or a scarf may offer some degree of protection. Experts say they were hesitant to make such a recommendation out of fear that it could create a false sense of security. 

Small business loans applications officially live, unofficially stalled

Today, applications for Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPPL) officially became available, but were met with confusion and delays at many banks. The loans are part of the federal government's massive CARES act, and are designed to help small businesses cover their payroll and operating costs. While some banks including Bank of America and Ameris are currently accepting applications, many others such as JP Morgan Chase have been delayed due to last minute changes in loan structures and difficulties with logistics to ensure same day approvals. More information is available here.

Updated March 31, 2020:

The spread of COVID-19 hospitalizations is slowing

We finally have some good news to indicate that social distancing measures are working in New York. As of Monday, the rate of new hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients is doubling every six days, down from every two days earlier this month. While we have not yet reached the peak of the outbreak, it is positive news. Keep staying home, New York.

The USNS Comfort arrives in New York

The Navy hospital ship the USNS Comfort has arrived in New York. The ship, currently docked at Pier 90 on the West Side of Manhattan, holds approximately 1,000 beds and a staff of 1,200 doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. The ship will be used to provide care for patients not currently diagnosed with COVID-19, alleviating much needed space in over-burdened hospitals, and allowing them to expand their intensive care units and devote more resources to helping those suffering from the virus.

Cannabis legalization could be on hold

Efforts to legalize adult use of cannabis in New York could be stalled due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. This year, legalization efforts have been directed through the state's budget by devoting $34.3 million in funding to a newly created Office for Cannabis Management. However, initial reports indicate that the new budget has eliminated this funding in order to prioritize measures to stop the spread of the virus and provide care for those affected. Legalization is still possible through the state legislature, but those discussions have understandably been tabled until the current crisis has been resolved. 

Updated March 30, 2020: 

Governor Cuomo extends PAUSE directive

Last night, Governor Cuomo announced an extension of the state's PAUSE directive for two weeks, until April 15th. The directive bans all non-essential gatherings, and requires all non-essential employees to work from home. 

City considers fines to enforce social-distancing

Over the weekend, Mayor de Blasio stated that city officials will begin implementing implementing a $250-$500 fine for New Yorkers who ignore social-distancing guidelines. The fines will specifically target those who gather in large groups in parks and other public spaces as the weather improves, and houses of worship that continue to hold services and gatherings. The city will also remove basketball hoops and soccer goals from city parks if it finds that people continue to use them.

Central Park becomes a field hospital

Construction began yesterday morning on a field hospital in Central Park. The 14 tent facility located in the East Meadow across the street from Mt. Sinai will hold up to 68 patients, including 10 intensive care units equipped with much needed ventilators. Teams of volunteers are currently assisting employees of Samaritan's Purse, an evangelical Christian relief organization which provided equipment and doctors to run the field hospital. They hope to be fully up and running by Tuesday morning.

Updated March 27, 2020:

The Governors Ball Cancelled

This one really hurts. Yesterday, the Governors Ball officially announced that the festival will not take place in 2020 due to concerns for the safety and well-being of artists and fans amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Ticket buyers will be able to obtain a refund for their tickets or transfer them to 2021, as the festival organizers are already working on next year's event. More information is available here.

City announces street closures to prevent crowding

In an effort to prevent crowding and ensure New Yorkers follow proper social distancing protocol, Mayor de Blasio announced a series of street closures yesterday. Starting today, sections of major streets in four boroughs will be closed to vehicular traffic as part of a pilot program to allow pedestrians room to walk and get exercise. Parks and playgrounds will also remain open this weekend, despite crowding blasted by the Governor last weekend. A list of street closures and more information is available here.

Updated March 26, 2020: 

Citi Bike Critical Workforce Membership Program provides free bikes for essential workers

Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Transportation and Lyft (who manage the Citi Bike program in New York) announced an initiative to provide free 30-day memberships for essential workers, including hospital personnel, transit employees and first responders. There will be no cost to hospitals or transit agencies, or the city departments (FDNY, NYPD, EMS, etc.), and the memberships will not auto-renew or charge workers who access the program. Lyft has also committed to an enhanced cleaning regiment and other programs to make bikes more available around high traffic hospitals. 

Senate bill provides increased unemployment benefits

Late last night, the Senate unanimously approved a $2 trillion aid package to provide relief for those affected by the coronavirus' economic impact. On top of sending checks to almost all Americans and other measures intended to help struggling businesses and prevent an economic downturn, the bill also includes unprecedented expansions to unemployment benefits. These include $600 a week in federal funds on top of the already existing state funds, which have a current max of $504 per week. The bill also seeks to extend coverage to people who are self employed, contractors, and gig economy workers who were previously not eligible for benefits. The bill is now moving to the House, who are expected to pass the legislation in a vote on Friday. 

You can learn more about stimulus FAQs for individuals here, and small businesses here.

Update March 23, 2020:

DOE opens "Regional Enrichment Centers" for kids of essential workers, and remote learning begins.

Last week, Mayor de Blasio announced the closing of all schools until at April 20 at the earliest and teaching goes online today. For children whose parents are still working in essential businesses and operations, the DOE has opened "Regional Enrichment Centers" for the children to attend during the day. The program will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week, offering three hot meals, activities, remote learning and emotional support.

Update March 22, 2020:

New York State officially on PAUSE.

As of 8 p.m. tonight, New York State is officially required by the Governor to stay indoors except for specified situations that have been deemed necessary by the Governor. The order is in effect until April 19 at the earliest. Essential businesses have been specified in a new list created by Governor Cuomo and include, health care operations, airports & transportation infrastructure, pharmacies, grocery stores and more. View the full list here.

Update March 20, 2020:

New York State implements 90-day moratorium on evictions.

In a tweet made today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced,  "New York will implement a 90-day moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial tenants. We will do all we can to help those financially suffering because of the #COVID19 pandemic."

This came seven days after a coalition of New York City landlords had pledged to halt evictions for the next three months. Cuomo's announcement makes this official for all landlords pertaining to residential and commercial tenants.

New York State on PAUSE.

On Friday, Governor Cuomo announced the PAUSE initiative in New York's next measure to curb the spread of coronavirus. PAUSE, which stands for "Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone" means the governor is asking 100% of non-essential workers to stay at home and any businesses deemed "non-essential" to close for the time being. Cuomo stressed, "These are legal provisions, they will be enforced, there will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that's not in compliance." 

An executive order made earlier this week declared healthcare workers, law enforcement, firefighters, transit workers, grocery workers, restaurant workers producing food for delivery and take out, delivery workers, child care workers, utility workers, auto repair workers, and hardware store employees to all be essential. If you're not sure if your business is included, you can see the full list here.

Update March 18, 2020:

De Blasio and Cuomo to discuss the Shelter-In-Place Order today.

The mayor and governor have been debating whether asking New Yorkers to stay inside except for food, medicine and necessary supplies will work for New York. While de Blasio says he's "almost there" in terms of making the decision, Cuomo has said “There's not going to be any quarantine where we contain people within an area ... There's not going to be any 'you-must-stay-in-your-house' rule."

Schools continue to offer grab-and-go meals for students in need.

Grab & Go breakfast and lunch was available to students at the entrance of every DOE school from 7:30 - 1:30 today. On Monday, school chancellor Richard Carranza said:

We expect that over the course of the week, as those plans become a little more final, that we're going to have more and more students that are going to show up. And what I'm really excited about is that we have lots of different options for students ... I'm holding a vegan option, for example, with hummus and apples. So we're trying to meet the needs of students, as much as possible. As we get further into this hiatus, there's going to be more options, including hot options.

Update March 17, 2020:

Mayor de Blasio considers a Shelter-In-Place Order.

Mayor de Blasio says the decision "should be made in the next 48 hours" on whether or not people will be urged to stay indoors completely. The mayor also said "If that moment came, there are tremendously substantial challenges that would have to be met ... And I don't take this lightly at all." 

He continued, "What is going to happen with folks who have no money?” he continued. “How are they going to get food? How are they going to get medicines? How are we going to ensure in a dynamic like that, that supplies are sufficient for our population?"

New clarification explains how bars and restaurants will be able to seel to-go alcohol.

With the new policies in place from Governor Cuomo the State Liquor Authority (SLA) has made a list of rules in accordance with the new mandates. The SLA has released guidance page including the following points in regards to off-premises sales:

  • Alcoholic beverage sold for off-premises consumption pursuant to this guidance may be sold in any closed and any sealed original container of any size. Provided that:
    • The sale of each container shall be accompanied by the purchase of food
    • Sales should be consistent with municipal open container ordinances
  • Alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption pursuant to this guidance may be sold for takeout from the licensed premises or may be delivered to the customer’s residence.
    • Deliveries shall be made in a vehicle permitted by the Authority (e.g., a third-party delivery service), or a vehicle-owned and -operated, or hired and operated by the licensee or its employee. A copy of the permit or license must be present in the vehicle.
  • Alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption pursuant to this guidance may only be sold during the on-premises hours of operation of the county in which the premises is located or, if different, the hours of operation set forth in the licensee’s method of operation with the Authority.

Update March 16, 2020:

The High Line has decided to temporarily close.

A statement from the park:

This was a difficult decision. However, given new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about limiting gatherings of 50 or more people, the closure of NYC public schools, and the mayor's limitations on restaurants and bars, we cannot ensure the safety of visitors, volunteers, or staff. This decision was informed by recommendations from public officials, the CDC, and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on social distancing as a means to contain community spread of COVID-19. While we fundamentally believe in the power of parks, especially during challenging times, we have to think about public health and safety. As an elevated park, the High Line’s design includes staircases and narrow paths. These unique conditions make it hard for us to meet the social distancing requirements of keeping at least six feet between people.

U.S. coronavirus task force advises against gatherings of 10 people or more.

The federal government began recommended that no gathering of 10 people or more take place around the country on Monday afternoon. For now, the new recommended guidelines are in place for 15 days.

From The New York Times:

The Trump administration released new guidelines on Monday to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, bars, restaurants and food courts.

Bars and restaurants will be allowed to sell to-go alcoholic beverages.

After announcing that bars and restaurants will be required to keep their doors closed and move to take-out only services, Governor Cuomo clarified that these establishments will still be able to sell alcohol. During a press conference, the governor stated, "Whatever you could order [in] the bar or restaurant or distillery or winery you can purchase through takeout ... We hope that goes a long way toward alleviating any economic hardship." To accommodate the governor's new rule, the State Liquor Authority has temporarily changed its law allowing for these businesses to provide such takeout services.

Tri-State officials ban gatherings of 50 people or more.

Beginning Monday at 8 p.m. no gatherings of 50 people or more will be allowed in Connecticut, New York or New Jersey. Restaurants and bars are required to offer take-out only. In a tweet on Monday, Governor Cuomo posted:

#BREAKING: NY, CT and NJ are taking joint regional action to reduce the spread of #COVID19:

Effective 8PM TONIGHT:

-Crowd capacity reduced to 50

-Restaurants/bars will be takeout/delivery ONLY

-Gyms closed

-Movie theaters closed

-Casinos closed

Update: March 15, 2020:

All entertainment venues to close on March 17.

Later in the day on March 15, after announcing the school closures, de Blasio made the decision to close all entertainment venues like night clubs and movie theatres beginning March 17. He stated: "Tomorrow, I will sign an Executive Order limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery. Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close ... The order will go into effect Tuesday, March 17 at 9:00 AM."

De Blasio delivered a more in-depth explanation for the decision, stating:

"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. The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together. We have to break that cycle.. This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality. We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers."

Mayor De Blasio orders all NYC Schools to close until April 20 at the earliest.

De Blasio stated, "There are so many parents who depend on our schools for meals and for their children ... I am distraught at having to take this action, but I became convinced over the course of the day there was no other choice."

This will effect 1.1 million students enrolled in the public health system. The city will institute remote learning on March 23 along with "regional enrichment centers" providing childcare for those in need. Schools will also be providing grab-and-go meals until April 8th.

Update: March 12, 2020:

New York has banned gatherings of 500 people or more "for the foreseeable future". Here is what we've heard from officials and news sources.

Governor Cuomo stated via Twitter: 

We are taking new actions to reduce the density of people across the state. Starting Friday at 5pm, gatherings with 500 people or more will not be permitted in NYS. Additionally, for facilities with an occupancy of 500 or fewer, we are reducing the legal capacity by 50%.

For Broadway theaters in Manhattan, these rules will go into effect at 5pm TODAY. We have already spoken to the theaters about these new measures and they agreed.

All Broadway theaters will suspend their performances through April 12, according to a statement from the Broadway League, a trade organization representing producers and theater owners. - The New York Times

Charlotte St. Martin, President of Broadway League says: 

Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatergoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals ... Broadway has the power to inspire, enrich and entertain, and together we are committed to making that vital spirit a reality. Once our stages are lit again, we will welcome fans back with open arms so that they can continue to experience the joy, heart, and goodwill that our shows so passionately express every night.

Gothamist also noted that St. Martin suggested ticketholders should "contact their point of purchase for refunds and exchanges."

The New York Post has said, "several shows will not be able to recover. The Minutes, a new play by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts that was to open Sunday night, is likely to close and never return."

Music venues and Broadway aren't the only ones being affected.

"Starting Friday, all events and public programming at New York City public libraries have been canceled. For now, library branches remain open, a spokeswoman said." - New York Times

New Jersey is also taking precautions. 

Governor Murphy recommended that all public gatherings of more than 250 people be cancelled as well. In a quote from the New Jersey Governor, he said, "Our front line efforts right now must be to aggressively mitigate the potential for exposure and further spread.”

Likewise, Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City has set a curfew of 10pm for nightclubs and bars.

Mayor de Blasio confirmed he agreed with Governor Cuomo's decision.

The NY Post reports that "de Blasio said he agreed with Gov. Cuomo's decision to close all places with legal occupancy of 500 people or more, and to slash the occupancy of smaller places in half." 

An aid to de Blasio stated "I can assure you, none of us wanted to take this action ... But it is the point where it's necessary."

Venues and promoters have been responding with statements of their own as well.

Brooklyn Bowl tweeted:

| NOTICE! | In accordance with Gov. Cuomo’s action to temporarily ban mass gatherings of 500+ people, we will be closing our doors until further notice. Your safety is our top priority + we feel this is the right thing to do. More info:

LPR issued a profound statement that clearly speaks to the issue venues are facing:

To Our Patrons and Our Community, 

A lot has changed in the three days since we last wrote to you. We are doing our best to keep music lovers and our community safe while also allowing our staff the opportunity to put food on the table for their families. 

It is a balancing act we wish we didn’t have to be a part of. In light of Governor Cuomo’s ban on large public gatherings, we have decided to cancel this weekend’s events. We will update you shortly on the month’s remaining events. Tonight’s show will go on as planned, but will be capped at 500 people. 

The outbreak of COVID-19 has hit independent businesses hard. Our bartenders and waitstaff, our porters and bussers, our marketers and bookers...we all depend on live music to survive. If you purchased a ticket to a show that ends up being postponed, please consider hanging onto your ticket to attend the rescheduled event. Your support means everything to us and holding onto those tickets during this time of uncertainty means that much more.

We will reach out to you again soon with more information regarding the coming weeks. Until then, stay safe, keep your spirits high and if you’re going to be home for a bit, play your music loud. 

Sincerely, Team LPR

Avant Gardner also shared a response:

As a venue and as members of a greater community, we find ourselves in uncharted waters. All events at Avant Gardner in the month of March are postponed and our team is actively working with agents, managers, artists, and clients to reschedule the affected shows. We will continue to monitor the situation and hope to resume operations in April if the Government and Health Officials deem it safe to do so. ⁠ ⁠⁠

The logistics of rescheduling these shows will take some time to resolve. We request your patience as we review each event in the coming weeks, and we will provide updates via email and social media as quickly as possible. Your ticket(s) will be honored for the new date(s). In the case that an event becomes impossible to reschedule, we will reach out to those ticket holders directly with more information. ⁠ ⁠⁠

We want to express gratitude to our guests, artists, employees, clients, partners, and friends for their support. Your safety and well-being is always our top priority. We will all navigate through these challenging times together. ⁠ ⁠

For further inquiries please contact [email protected] ⁠ ⁠

Elsewhere also posted:

Our mission at Elsewhere as always is to create a safer space to enjoy music, art, and freedom of expression, and so ensuring the safety of our community, our artists, and our staff remains our top priority in the face of COVID-19.

In an abundance of caution, we will be temporarily closing Elsewhere for one week, through next Thursday, March 19th. Tomorrow's live shows will be our last events, and this weekend's club nights will be postponed.

We are closely monitoring and actively implementing recommendations and mandates by authorities, and the NYC Department of Health. When we re-open next week, that will entail decreasing our venue's capacity so that we do not host events with 500+ people. 

We are doing our best to adapt to a quickly evolving situation, and so there is likely to be more event updates soon. For now, you can find all current programming updates in our story highlight. Tickets will be refunded automatically for cancelled events.

For full details on our community health precautions, please visit Let's work together to keep each other safe.

Thank you.

The Elsewhere Team.

Baby's All Right Stated:

Due to special precautions Baby's All Right will be postponing all programming until March 26th. This is a public safety issue that we would like to responsibly do our part in containing. All events will be rescheduled and ticket holders will be notified of those updates as they are confirmed. Please bear with us through this tough time. There is a lot to work through but we promise ticket holders will be notified with updates as they roll in. 

Please stay safe and take preventative measures to quell the spread of COVID-19. Thank you and remember: Baby loves you.

The McKittrick Hotel stated:

Per Governor Cuomo’s order closing all Broadway theaters and public gatherings with a capacity of 500 or more effective yesterday, The McKittrick Hotel follows for the safety of our casts, staff and patrons.

The McKittrick Hotel - which houses Sleep No More, Speakeasy Magick, Bartschland Follies, The Woman in Black, and rooftop restaurant & bar, The Lodge at Gallow Green - will close for a period of 30 days through April 12, 2020.

We are working to update our schedule and rebook reservations during this time at no extra charge. Once our schedule is posted, we will be happy to assist guests to find a suitable exchange date. Reservations will not expire and can be used at any time.

I will be in touch when we have more news. Our rooftop garden escape, Gallow Green, is still anticipated to re-open in spring!

Billboard reported:

Recognizing national concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, Live Nation is instructing its touring shows to prepare to return home, Billboard has learned. The announcement affects all Live Nation tours, domestically and internationally. 

Earlier Thursday (March 12) the company told employees it is hitting the pause button on current touring arena shows through the end of the month. A few shows will play out Thursday and Friday, but the remainder of the shows starting this weekend will be postponed. 

Live Nation is also instructing its employees to work remotely and not come into the office. The company’s Beverly Hills headquarters will be mostly closed until the end of March.

Before the ban hit, the Metropolitan Museum also took preventative measures. 

The museum is closing its facilities at the Fifth Ave flagship location, as well as the Met Breuer and Met Cloisters. All events have been cancelled at The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall until March 31 as well according to New York Times.

Daniel Weiss, the president and chief executive at The Met said, "The Met's priority is to protect and support our staff, volunteers and visitors."


We will continue to update you as best we can as the situation develops and keeping our listings as relevant and accurate as we can.