What to Know
- More than 25,000 reopening complaints have been made against NY businesses, mostly in Manhattan and the Hamptons. Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned he could roll back reopenings if local gov'ts don't enforce the law
- New York saw its lowest number of daily deaths the last two days (23 and 25, respectively) since the pandemic hit, Cuomo said Monday; given the promising numbers, he lifted the cap on indoor gatherings from 10 to 25 people for Phase III regions
- Five of the state's 10 regions are already in Phase III of the reopening process; two more regions, Capital Region and Western New York, will join them in the coming days
New Yorkers be warned. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is frustrated by "rampant" violations of reopening guidelines -- and he's threatening to roll back the progress if local governments don't effectively enforce the rules.
More than 25,000 complaints of reopening violations have come in across the state, Cuomo said — adding that he called some of the packed bars and restaurants himself. Most of the violations were in Manhattan and the Hamptons.
Photos and videos of unmasked people flaunting the rules, congregating on curbs with total disregard for social distancing, flooded social media this weekend. Diners were seen eating and drinking at tables outside restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn amid the glorious weather despite al fresco being a Phase II step. New York City is just one week into Phase I.
"People are violating everything," Cuomo said Monday, adding he “can’t use the state police everywhere in the state” to enforce social-distancing rules.
"People are scared. They see a business doing the wrong thing, they snap a picture," the governor said, echoing the fears of some people who are concerned the new attitudes among restaurant-goers could usher in a second wave of the virus.
Cuomo said local police should take action against individuals who violate open container laws and warned that restaurants and bars that violate the rules are at risk of losing their liquor licenses. If municipalities don't take action, he will.
"To the local governments I say 'Do your job,'" Cuomo said Monday, doubling down on his warning from the day before. He acknowledged that compliance is difficult; people have been stuck inside for months and want to return to life. But it's the mitigation measures New York has taken that drove down infection spread in the first place -- and it's those same measures that will keep it that way.
"We have to stay smart. If the local governments don't enforce compliance they're not doing anyone a favor, because if they don't enforce compliance you will see the numbers go up," Cuomo said. "And if you see the numbers go up those areas will have to take a step back."
New York City officials have said they're taking aggressive steps to enforce restrictions, including handing out free masks at city parks and encouraging people to disperse, not crowd on sidewalks, after making purchases.
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
Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled his entire Monday schedule shortly before his daily briefing was set to begin; his office said he was feeling under the weather. De Blasio is not planning to get tested for COVID; spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein says he doesn't feel that's necessary at this time.
The mayor's office did respond to Cuomo's initial warning Sunday night, though. A City Hall spokesperson wrote in an email that these "businesses are allowed to be open per the governor’s guidelines and we don’t believe imprisoning people or taking away their livelihood is the answer.”
Some NYC restaurant managers said they they're frustrated over the lack of guidance from the city.
As for the Hamptons, Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone said Sunday he had not heard of compliance issues there or elsewhere in the county. He said he would follow up with local police.
The governor's Sunday comments came a day after he reacted sternly to a short Twitter video of young people enjoying a warm day packed tightly on a Manhattan street, many without facial coverings. Maskless crowds were spotted outside restaurants and bars from the Upper East Side to the West Village.
St. Marks caught heat after images of large crowds gathered outside spread across social media Saturday night. Elected leaders walked through crowded neighborhoods to push for social distancing compliance.
"We have lost tens of thousands of people in New York City and New York State. Just because you heard we crushed the curve - doesn't mean it's over," said New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera.
Meanwhile, as restaurants and other places begin to heat up, other old familiar places remain nearly desolate — particularly transportation hubs. Port Authority said that passenger volumes at the three major NYC-area airports dropped 98 percent in April, with PATH ridership down 95 percent. Bridges and tunnels also saw far less traffic, down more than 60 percent compared to 2019. The agency is looking for $3 billion in direct federal aid to help offset losses and move forward on their construction plan.
While other states have seen COVID-19 spikes amid reopening, New York has maintained its progress in fighting back the disease. Cuomo added 25 more deaths to the toll Monday, the lowest number since the pandemic hit next to the 23 he reported the previous day. The governor also said COVID hospitalizations had fallen to their lowest number since March 20.
Once the epicenter of the national coronavirus epidemic, New York is now among the U.S. states with the lowest infection rates, he added.
"Across the nation, we are seeing the virus increasing," Cuomo said Monday. "New York is one of the exceptions. COVID cases are going down even after we began reopening. We must stay the course. It’s up to us, New York."
None of the state's 10 regions has a daily COVID testing positivity rate higher than 1.4 percent (Western New York). New York City's fell to 1.3 percent positive Monday of more than 28,000 people tested the day before. At the peak of the crisis, 59 percent of those tested each day in the five boroughs were positive.
Cuomo is loosening restrictions slowly, phasing them in by region in most cases. In the latest move, Cuomo said Sunday that “low-risk” youth sports like baseball, softball, field hockey and gymnastics can begin on July 6 in regions in Phase III of reopening. There can be two spectators per child.
Given the promising numbers, the governor said he would increase the limits on indoor gatherings from 10 people to 25 people for regions in Phase III. Half of the state's 10 regions -- Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Central New York -- are already there. Western New York and the Capital Region will join them later this week.