NYC Cancels Large Event Permits Through September, But Zoos and Aquariums Can Reopen

Smaller gatherings less than a block in length that don't interfere with the Open Streets plan are still allowed, while the city's zoos and aquariums can welcome back guests starting July 24

Bronx Zoo
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Large New York City events requiring a permit will be cancelled through Sept. 30, the city said late Thursday, as it works to open public spaces for social distancing.

No permits will be issued for any event that would interfere with space already designated for Open Streets or Open Restaurants use, the city said. That includes things like street fairs, outdoor concerts, parades and other big events.

"Permits will also be denied for all events larger than one block, stage/video events that require amplification, street fairs, and events in parks that may unreasonably diminish public use," City Hall said in a statement. The mayor said the city will refund or defer fees paid in connection with denied permits.

The move extends a ban that has been in place for a months, a consequence of COVID-19 and the need to maximize space for pedestrians and diners.

The order would presumably interfere with a number of scheduled parades, including the African American Day Parade on Sept. 20, the India Day Parade Aug. 16 and the Ecuadorian Day Parade Aug. 2.

"While it pains me to call off some of the city's beloved events, our focus now must be the prioritization of city space for public use and the continuation of social distancing," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

However, the mayor said that the city’s ban will exempt “demonstrations, religious events and press conferences," and addressed the Black Lives Matter protests and marches that have been occurring throughout the city since late May.

“Look this is always an area of real sensitivity here,” de Blasio said in a CNN appearance, in response to a question about whether protests would be allowed. “You’re talking about health, we would always say, ‘Hey folks stay home if you can.’ But we understand this moment in history, people are talking about the need for historic change.”

He said New York’s slowly reopened as the percentage of positive cases has appeared to decline from April peaks, but noted it's also important "to know when to call a time out."

On the flip side, there will be some more public places reopening in the coming weeks.

The Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Central Park Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo and the Queens Zoo will open on July 24 after being closed since mid-March, the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the facilities, announced Thursday.

“We are pleased that the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium and our other parks will again serve as retreats where guests can connect with animals and nature when we open on July 24 after being closed for 130 days,” Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny said.

Visitors will have to buy tickets online in advance, and masks will be required for everyone over 3 years old.

Zoo officials said the planned openings are timed to coincide with New York City’s entry into Phase 4 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening process during the week of July 20.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that another eight individuals with COVID-19 died in New York hospitals and nursing homes Wednesday.

The number of hospitalizations has declined overall since spiking in mid-April, but 851 individuals with COVID-19 were hospitalized Wednesday. That’s up from 817 Sunday, according to the governor's office.

Copyright NBC New York
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