NYC Enters Phase II Monday, Opening Al Fresco, Playgrounds & More

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What to Know

  • New York City will move to Phase II Monday; up to 300,000 more people are expected to return to work. Long Island and the Mid-Hudson regions join the rest of the state in Phase III this week
  • Phase II reopens outdoor dining, in-person retail, office-based jobs, hair salons, barbershops and more; NYC playgrounds will also reopen Monday, while team sports like basketball and football remain prohibited
  • Also on Monday, New Jersey prepares to reopen beauty salons, tattoo and massage parlors and more personal care services, along with non-contact team sports

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the final go ahead for New York City's entry into Phase II Monday during an impassioned address on Friday, his final daily COVID briefing after 111 straight since New York City confirmed its first case on March 1.

Phase II allows for the reopening of outdoor dining at bars and restaurants, in-person retail, hair salons and barbershops (but not personal care services like nails or massages) and more office-based jobs, all at half capacity and with mandatory COVID safeguards in place like social distancing and facial coverings.

"It includes the single biggest piece of our economy. We're all in agreement this is the right thing to do," de Blasio said. "It's time to move forward, and if anything comes up in the data that's a concern we're going to talk about it publicly."

Restaurants have been clamoring for the opportunity to legally resume outdoor dining to boost their struggling businesses; they've had to take an "adapt or die" approach to survive the months-long shutdown. Some set up al fresco areas in violation of the state's reopening guidelines as the weather warmed recently.

The mayor revealed a preliminary outdoor dining plan even before New York City entered Phase I. It focuses on making more temporary space available to restaurants, leveraging curbside seating, sidewalks and open streets. On Thursday, de Blasio added pedestrian plazas and backyard and patio seating to the plan, saying the "Open Restaurants" initiative could ultimately save 5,000 restaurants and up to 45,000 jobs. He signed an order initiating that Thursday.

"We know that restaurants define greatness in the city. We're going to make sure we save restaurants, that is the mission," he said. "We want to make sure it's easy for restaurants to come back; that means using outdoor space in the beginning."

The mayor also provided long-awaited clarity on the plan's components:

  • Sidewalk seating: Must maintain a clear path free from obstructions between the seating and the curb
  • Curb lane seating: Roadway seating can't exceed length of business frontage, and be separated from the travel lane with a barrier (planters, barricades). Restrictions on areas ineligible for roadway seating including ‘No Standing Anytime’ curbs, bus stops, within 15’ of hydrants, etc
  • Open Streets: DOT will work with community groups and partner agencies to identify additional seating within full street closures in July
  • Plaza Seating: Restaurants can work with their local Business Improvement District and DOT to request additional seating in plazas. Email:
After Mayor de Blasio put out his plan for restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining, eateries all over the city are now trying to figure out what they can do to maximize their outside space. NBC New York's Chris Glorioso reports.

Outdoor tables have to be spaced 6 feet apart and employees have to wear masks. Indoor dining areas should stay closed. Customers must also wear masks unless seated, and they're only supposed to be seated at a table with members of their own household. In New York City, the latter may be challenging.

The plan calls for overtaking a vast number of regular parking spaces. Most of those spaces are metered, but de Blasio said the city still had to figure out what to do in cases where there is alternate side parking. By Saturday, the mayor suspended alternate side parking through Sunday, June 28.

Also an obstacle: restaurants located in front of bus lanes, hydrants or near construction zones. Those businesses will not have outdoor seating made available to them. And even though the mayor says that outdoor dining could benefit about 5,000 of the city's 27,000 restaurants, some eateries won't be participating as they aren't able to fit enough tables to justify re-hiring workers, and some aren't able to re-staff.

"It has been a real challenge. There are a number of reasons keeping the employees from running right back," said Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association. "One is certainly the pandemic unemployment assistance. Others have genuine concerns for their own health and the health of their families."

nyc restaurant map
NYC released a graphic showing how its Open Restaurants initiative will work.

Under the city's outdoor dining plan, alcohol can be served outdoors for restaurants with existing liquor licenses. Officials are working with the State Liquor Authority to automatically extend licenses to new seating, de Blasio said. The Department of Transportation will post an online self-certification application for sidewalk and curb seating Friday. As part of that application, restaurants and bars will have to self-certify they won't allow unseated customers to crowd outside of their establishments. Repeat noncompliance could cost eateries their Open Restaurant authorizations.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took enforcement a step further last week, signing an executive order empowering the state to shut down violators of local reopening guidelines and strip them of their liquor licenses. He also signed an executive order holding bars responsible for the sidewalk area in front of their businesses.

But on a warm Friday night, there were crowds gathering in New York City not just for Juneteenth celebrations or marches, but rather some were enjoying some early al fresco dining — or more accurately, drinking. Groups gathered in Hell's Kitchen, where local leaders passed out masks and hand sanitizer as they encouraged safe reveling after months of lockdown, but also pushed for caution.

"We are still trying to beat this virus. People who aren't social distancing, New Yokers who aren't wearing their masks are not helping the cause," said State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents the neighborhood.

As outdoor dining reopens in New York City Monday, so too will its playgrounds, de Blasio said. Social distancing ambassadors will monitor crowding, distribute face coverings and encourage hygiene. Asked about team sports Friday, de Blasio said he wants to first assess the potential impact of Phase I and the protests on infections, which should be clear in the coming days. Once playgrounds reopen, he'll monitor COVID rates again for any spikes.

De Blasio says up to 350,000 people are expected to return to work in Phase II, on top of the hundreds of thousands who went back when the city entered Phase I. The MTA has launched aggressive new safety measures, as have the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North. More bus lanes have been painted in the city and Staten Island Ferry rush-hour service is now more frequent, but much no specifics have been offered on how people should actually get to and from work. Right now, those who can work from home are advised to continue doing so.

The city said it will distribute 2 million free face coverings to Phase II businesses on top of the 2 million it has already dispensed. Find full state guidance on the restrictions and requirements for Phase II businesses in all sectors here.

Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region

Gov. Andrew Cuomo breaks the state into 10 regions for testing purposes and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hotspots. Here's the latest tracking data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here


New York City is the state's only region still in Phase I. Long Island and Mid-Hudson regions are in Phase II but will take the step into Phase III, opening up indoor dining and personal care services, by the middle of next week.

The phased regional reopenings have not caused statistically significant spikes in infection thus far in New York, even as nearly half the nation's states grapple with new outbreaks. Many of those lack New York's robust reopening standards.

Cuomo said Thursday he's concerned about rising COVID rates in Florida and considering imposing a 14-day self-quarantine for people who travel from there to New York. Florida was among the states that did that for New York travelers early in the pandemic as the virus ran rampant across the five boroughs, he said.

"Fast forward, now we're afraid they're bringing it to our state," Cuomo added.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a veiled shot at Florida Gov. DeSantis on Thursday, saying he might order Floridians into quarantine if they travel north. NBC New York's Checkey Beckford and Ida Siegal report.

New Jersey, meanwhile, entered Stage 2 of Murphy's reopening roadmap earlier this week, resuming outdoor dining, child care, in-person retail and library pickup, among other services. More personal care services like salons and massage parlors are on track to reopen on Monday, June 22, the same day New York City starts its Phase II. Gov. Phil Murphy set some new dates Thursday, announcing indoor portions of retail shopping malls can reopen on June 29 with limitations.

"Malls are part of New Jersey culture and lure," Murphy said. "We want these businesses to get back up and running responsibly and safely. If you head out to the mall, please comply with the requirements in place."

New Jersey now ranks 36th among U.S. states as far as new cases per 100,000 residents, but it has struggled on other key metrics, ranking third and fifth, respectively, in new daily deaths and total hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.

Starting next week, Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey would add probable COVID deaths to its overall toll, as New York City has done. He says that change will increase the state's overall toll, which stands at 12,835, "significantly."

All these are reasons to remain vigilant, Murphy says, as the state prepares to take its next step Monday, reopening beauty salons, tattoo and massage parlors and more personal care services, along with non-contact team sports.

Murphy announced more key dates Friday. Starting Father's Day, nursing homes, assisted living residences and other long-term care facilities, which have accounted for nearly half of New Jersey's COVID deaths, can allow visitors in designated outdoor spaces. Murphy wants to review their plans before they do.

"Being apart from our loved ones has been on of the most difficult challenges throughout the pandemic — especially for long-term care residents and their families," state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said, adding that the new guidelines protect and reduce risk for the at-risk population.

"Malls are part of New Jersey culture and lure," Murphy said. "We want these businesses to get back up and running responsibly and safely. If you head out to the mall, please comply with the requirements in place."

The governor also set a date for this week for the long-awaited reopening of indoor shopping malls. Those can return June 29 with restrictions. Food courts, common seating areas, theaters and arcades remain closed.

All of that has reopened in Connecticut as of this week. The least hard-hit of the tri-states amid the COVID outbreak, the Constitution State has been the most aggressive of the three on reopening. All that remains shut down in Connecticut are schools, summer camps, state campgrounds, the DMV and bars.

Tri-state confirmed COVID cases surpassed the 600,000 mark Friday, while the region's confirmed virus deaths are nearly 42,000. Nationally, NBC News estimates more than 2.2. million cases have been confirmed, while almost 120,000 have died -- at least.

The World Health Organization said Friday that the coronavirus pandemic had entered a “new and dangerous phase” as global daily COVID cases hit a new record high, with nearly half of them coming from the United States.

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