When New York reopens on June 8th, at least 200,000 people go back to work, but the symbolism is even greater. A restart and a rebirth as what?
” What’s on everyone’s mind all over this city is the restart of this city, taking the first step to getting us back to a better situation,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on May 28th.
Later, Governor Cuomo announced that New York reopens on June 8th.
“I’m proud of the way New York is figuring it out,” he said.
But What Happens When New York Reopens?
The first step is small.
Retail stores open for curbside or in-store pickup and nonessential construction and manufacturing resume. It’s a taste of normal, but only a taste.
Even so, it’s a big, impressive step for New York City, not long ago the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Restarting, the city came a long way very quickly.
Basic Rules In Place
In his press briefing, the mayor released basic rules for businesses restarting:
– Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of any shared surfaces
– Implement mandatory health screenings for employees, such as questionnaires and temperature checks
– Create distance markers and post signage throughout the workplace reminding personnel to adhere to phase one guidance and rules
– Employers must conspicuously post completed business safety plans on site
– Require six feet of distance between people unless safety or core function of the work activity requires less
– Tightly confined spaces must reduce occupancy to under 50% of maximum capacity with all employees wearing face coverings
– Limit occurrence of all in-person gatherings and meetings, and only hold them in large, well-ventilated areas with social distancing and a maximum of ten people
Personal Protective Equipment
– Provide employees with free clean face coverings and, if the nature of the work requires, stricter personal protective equipment like face shields
– Encourage the use of face coverings at all times and require them if employees cannot keep 6 feet of distance due to safety or core work function.
The Restart To What?
When New York City reopens, it isn’t likely to resemble the bustling arrangement of businesses, tourists and residents we saw as little as three months ago.
Although miles of streets have closed to cars, trucks and buses, the buildings lining the blocks haven’t changed at all. But the more critical element, the people, has.
And adjustments will be universal.
Folks who haven’t been out much must adjust to a world of face masks and overt social distancing.
Talking through the astonishing variety of face coverings includes muffled words and no assists from lip reading. You will repeat yourself often to be understood, and you’ll listen more carefully too.
When New York reopens, strangers and even friends recoil when you get close. The idea of personal space expands.
Get used to passersby scurrying to the curb, maintaining distance.
And keeping your thoughts to yourself when encountering the 10% to 15% refusing to respect anyone else by wearing a covering and keeping six foot distance is good advice.
If they haven’t got the message yet, no amount of shaming will change them.
Remember Common Sense
“Now, we want to make sure the restart works,” Mayor de Blasio said. “So, of course, it is first and foremost about constantly staying on top of the health and safety situation.”
For us, that means maintaining the good behavior that got us here.
- Wear a mask when you leave home. (It’s okay to pull it down, once in a while, making breathing and talking easier, as long as you keep your distance.)
- If you’re sick, stay home. No time for toughing it out. You might, but you’ll infect others at the same time.
- Wash your hands frequently, don’t hug or shake hands with anyone other than those you live with.
One of the most impressive things observed during the shutdown is how considerate and kind many New Yorkers have been. When we restart, let’s keep that spirit.
When New York Reopens…
Opinions about the new normal are posted daily, but the truth is, we don’t know what it is.
Over the coming months, as new phases of reopening roll out, how close to the good old days will we get?
Keeping in mind that some of it wasn’t all that good.
Air pollution fell off dramatically as traffic lessened.
And crime fell too.
But other changes have yet to shine their lights.
How many of our favorite restaurants will never come back? How will business models based on packing us in close change?
Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets playing in stadiums without fans? Watch at home, but players with face masks…? No catcalls or the roar of the crowd as a perfect spiral meets talented hands in the end zone?
No “Judge’s Chambers” in right field?
Some businesses will never come back, and shopping in stores will not include mindlessly drifting through racks and aisles, searching the perfect fit, color, design, etc.
How many of us will accelerate our conversion to online?
Safer but certainly lonelier.
When New York reopens on June 8th, we’ll reinvent ourselves, one step at a time.
The opportunity’s there for making our city even better.
By David Stone