New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says all non-essential businesses, public and private schools will close on Wednesday in nine Brooklyn and Queens postal codes if approved by the state, citing coronavirus cases above a positive 3 % in the last seven days.
The closure will affect about half a million people in the following zip codes: 11691 (Edgemere / Far Rockaway), 11219 (Borough Park), 11223 (Gravesend / Homecrest), 11230 (Midwood), 11204 (Bensonhurt / Mapleton), 11210 (Flatlands / Midwood), 11229 (Gerritsen Beach / Homecrest / Sheepshead Bay), 11415 (Kew Gardens), 11367 (Kew Gardens Hills / Pomonok).
Within these nine postal codes, the mayor says about 100 public and 200 non-public schools will be closed. Students in recognized zip codes will have the opportunity to return to their schools on Mondays and Tuesdays to meet with teachers and plan a return to all-school distance learning.
Schools in affected postcodes could theoretically change everything remote in just two weeks or up to four weeks, depending on the success of efforts to reduce the positivity rate, the clusters contain, says de Blasio.
Internal and external catering services will also be catered for by restaurants, while dining options are for ordering and delivery. Shuls and other places of worship, the mayor says, will not be included in the closure request.
De Blasio says Wednesday was chosen to launch these drastic feedbacks to the city’s opening strategy, to give affected communities enough time to prepare for the expected closures.
Another 11 postcodes that the city says cause alarm but do not yet reach the 3 percent positivity threshold could also deal with their own failures. De Blasio reports that part of the city’s proposal to the state includes the closure of indoor meals, gyms and swimming pools in these 11 postcodes, but has stopped extending closures to schools and other businesses deemed unnecessary.
“We are waiting for the approval and support of the state before we proceed,” de Blasio reiterated during his announcement on Sunday. “This is an energy taken from plenty of attention.”
If the state approves de Blasio’s proposed restorations, the mayor has put forward two possible scenarios that would trigger community opening steps.
This announcement comes in the wake of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mandate to send New York State Police to launch an “aggressive” crackdown on all postal codes reporting the highest coronavirus positive rates.
Citing a lack of action by local governments, the New York governor told reporters in a teleconference on Sunday that the time for training was over.
“We are setting up a working group … and we will make targeted enforcement on each of these groups,” he said. “But it was the same thing we did with bars and restaurants that was very effective. Enforcement will be targeted. It will not be public education, we have overcome that point.”
The collection of 20 postal codes identified by state health officials struggling to contain recent cases had a 4.8% positive rate yesterday, Cuomo said. The rate is slightly lower than the previous day, which the state said was 5.2 percent, but the governor said the weekend data “may be a bit far.”
New York performed about 110,000 virus tests on Saturday after a record 134,000 tests the day before.
“Local businesses that break the law will be fined and could close, just like bars and restaurants. If there are businesses that break the rules of the merger, they can be fined and shut down,” Cuomo warned.
This story is evolving.