The USA is worst affected by the corona pandemic worldwide, especially the state of New York with its metropolis. But slowly cautious hope is spreading.
Joe McHarris has hope again. Starting Friday, he’s allowed to reopen his little art shop in the village of Clinton, north of New York City. “Artisans’ Corner” had to remain closed for almost two months in the Corona crisis, sales collapsed by 90 percent. Some of the artists who sell with him have suffered a lot, he says. But now it should get better again: The US state of New York is starting to relax the restrictions after almost 30,000 deaths. The “next big step in this historic journey,” says Governor Andrew Cuomo. And an incomparable show of strength – especially for the heavily hit metropolis of New York City.
Hope for artists and traders
“This is very promising to me, but at the same time it is worrying,” says shop owner McHarris. He’s not sure yet whether New York is really out of the woods. On the other hand, it is important that he can reopen his shop. The fates of more than 30 artists hung on him. In the coming days he will be able to sell out of the shop again – and if everything goes well, he will open his doors fully soon afterwards.
The opening starts with small steps. The ten regions in New York, a state of 20 million people, have to meet seven requirements. It is important, for example, that on average no more than two out of 100,000 residents are brought to hospital per day, that there are a certain number of free emergency beds and that enough tests are carried out.
Regions far away from the metropolis make the start
A region can only begin the first phase when all requirements have been met. By Friday, these are expected to be four rural regions in the north of the state – far from the metropolis of New York City. In the areas of Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, North Country and the Mohawk Valley, construction work can resume and craftsmen can work again from Friday – and shops like “Artisans’ Corner” start selling on the street.
If a region continues to meet all the criteria, after two weeks it will, so to speak, go one level up and enter phase two. Then shops can reopen their rooms, and a number of employees in the finance and insurance sector are also allowed to go back to the office. After at least two more weeks without complications, restaurants can reopen in the third phase – and at the very end in the fourth phase again theaters, museums, schools and universities.
“We live in constant fear”
A delay – or a step backwards into a previous phase – is always possible, this is decided by regional committees. “We live in constant fear of a second wave of infections,” says Governor Cuomo – and points to his deep, dark circles under the eyes.
“I really feel that we are on a long way,” says Kelly Blazosky. She is the president of the Tourism Board in the Oneida district, north of New York. Even if the first phase begins now, the visitor business will suffer for a long time. First, Blazosky expects guests from the surrounding areas. It is completely unclear when guests from abroad will come again. Nevertheless, the measures were necessary. “You can’t replace people, so that’s the most important thing.”
New York City is still a long way from easing
300 kilometers further south, the situation looks very different. The densely populated metropolis of New York City currently only meets four of the seven requirements for the start of the phased relaxation. The number of new patients per day is still far too high and there are not yet enough free hospital beds. For the metropolis, which is always in the spotlight, this means: keep waiting. “We are obviously not there yet,” says Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The likelihood – if no miracle happens – is that it will be June.”
The famous Times Square in New York City: it will probably remain empty here for a while. (Source: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)
But if the opening is only just starting in June, then – in New York more and more people are now convinced – the big city will probably remain paralyzed for months. The umbrella organization of Broadway theaters has already announced that no shows will be played until at least the beginning of September. Operas and orchestras have suspended their programs that normally run until summer.
The schools had already been closed until the summer vacation anyway – and there are considerations that lessons could only be limited after that, says the psychologist at a private school in Manhattan. She is spending the crisis with her parents in New Jersey, says the 31-year-old. “My health is fine and I still have my job, so I’m very privileged. I see with many of my students that this state is very difficult for them, that makes me very worried – especially if it has been going on longer and longer Otherwise I only have one luxury problem: I miss Manhattan and its great energy. “
Governor praises the New Yorkers
Governor Cuomo praised all New Yorkers during the crisis. “We were really in a bad position – but we have changed the worst situation in the whole country for the better. If we hadn’t done that, we would have made the situation in Italy look like a walk in the park by comparison.” Italy was hit particularly hard by the corona pandemic in Europe.
Now there shouldn’t just be a simple reopening – but New York must grow with the crisis, says Cuomo. “I believe there will be an all-encompassing reassessment – and I believe it will make us better, individually and collectively.”