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New York Stock Exchange to reopen trading floor after Memorial Day

The New York Stock Exchange will reopen its trading floor on May 26, though with numerous restrictions in place. One measure: Traders will be barred from using public transportation.

The plan to reopen the Big Board after the Memorial Day holiday was revealed by NYSE President Stacey Cunningham in an opinion piece posted by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday evening. The exchange has been closed since March 23. The closure came days after a floor trader and a NYSE employee tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then, the exchange has been operating electronically.

"We opted to close our floor temporarily in the early days of the pandemic to help slow the spread of disease," Cunningham wrote in the op-ed. "Two months later, we've learned a lot and are in a position to reopen the floor with vital new safety measures, as we begin working together to restart the U.S. economy."

Regions of N.Y. state to begin reopening 04:36

Cunningham said the NYSE's trading floor will initially be open to only a limited number of traders, mostly employed by smaller firms. Larger firms that have shown the ability to manage trading electronically will continue to do so, she said. 

The floor traders will be barred from taking public transportation, will have to wear face masks and will follow "strict social-distancing requirements," Cunningham said. Anyone entering the NYSE's historic building on Wall Street in Manhattan will be screened and have to take temperature checks.

Cunningham said adjustments will be made on the trading floor to give each trader their own workspace. She left open the possibility of the NYSE taking further precautions if there is a resurgence in coronavirus cases. 

The exchange's reopening will likely intensify the debate over when states and cities should allow businesses to reopen. New York City, for instance, is still only open for essential businesses.

"It isn't clear when America will resume business as usual," Cunningham wrote. "The virus will remain a stubborn reality but we can't keep the country closed indefinitely."

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