November 27, 2020

Nonessential businesses, schools to close for at least 14 days in NYC “red” zones

Restrictions put in place will follow Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s three-zone, color-coded plan, which was revealed Tuesday. Rules will be reevaluated after 14 days, but it is not clear how long restrictions will be put in place, pending coronavirus positivity rates. Heavy fines will be implemented, with $15,000 fines for violating mass-gathering rules and $1,000 fines for social-distancing and mask violations.  

Cuomo’s plan groups neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens into red, yellow or orange zones, with red as high risk, orange as surrounding area and yellow as precautionary. Orange zones will close high-risk nonessential businesses, such as gyms, bars and restaurants, as well as schools, but they will permit outdoor dining. Yellow zones will stay open for business, allow indoor and outdoor dining, and keep schools open. 

The release of the governor’s color-coded system had initially caused confusion, which the mayor plans to address with an online tool that once published will allow residents to enter their address and receive information about corresponding restrictions in their area. The mayor did not say when the tool will be made available to the public.

“We’re going to be doing an outreach effort, education effort, and the full force of the city government will be out there in communities,” the mayor said, adding there will be 1,200 personnel on the ground and canvassers of the test and trace corps in the affected communities. 

The city will contribute more than 400 personnel to help the state’s enforcement task force. 

The mayor also emphasized the need for residents all over the city, especially in high-risk areas, to get tested. The city has already performed more than 10,000 tests in the affected zones, de Blasio said. Surges in coronavirus cases in nine ZIP codes drove the city coronavirus infection rate above 3% last week.

“We have to get the maximum amount of people tested in the red and orange zones,” de Blasio said. “The more people that get tested, the better.” 

The Department of Transportation will alert all restaurants in the red and orange zones of the new restrictions, the mayor said. The Department of Small Business Services will be doing outreach, and robocalls will be made to all households in red and orange zones. 

When asked if the new measures target Orthodox Jewish communities, whose ZIP codes have seen a rise in cases, the mayor said the city would go where the data takes it.

“The facts, the science, the data tell us what is happening and we act on it,” he said.

The mayor added that there will be fines and arrests for assaults, damaged property and the setting of fires—a move that follows protests Tuesday night in some Brooklyn neighborhoods in which residents took to the streets to oppose the new set of coronavirus restrictions.

“It’s crucial that those who disagree still respect the fact that the state and city have made the decision for the health and safety of all,” de Blasio said. “There is a place for peaceful protest, but the NYPD will be not tolerate people doing harm to others.”

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