New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that newrestrictions are likely to hit the city in the coming days. "It's just a matter of time" before indoor dining and gyms close, he said, adding, "It's very likely to be in the next week or two."
De Blasio said the city will soon be in orange zone status, which would trigger the shutdowns. "The orange zone rules are clear, and New York City will, before long, be in that orange zone status," he said.
De Blasio made the remarks at a press conference Thursday after announcing the day before that the city's seven-day averagepositivity rate hit 3%, triggering .
The closures were met with backlash from parents and faced criticism over the fact that places like bars and restaurants in the city were open while schools were being ordered to close. Parents were rallying Thursday in front of City Hall against the decision.
But the mayor has firmly defended it.
"My kids went to New York City public schools. I really do feel what parents are going through. I told them last week, we had to get ready for this possibility," he said Thursday on "CBS This Morning."
"The benefit is keeping people alive and keeping people safe," he said.
"Look, we have to be clear about this history. We were the epicenter of the crisis and a lot of people truly believed it would never be safe for our schools to come back until there's a vaccine," he said, referring to school closures earlier this year when the city was hit hard by the virus. "We have to keep faith with people and show we'll keep them safe."
He said he hopes schools will reopen in the "next few weeks."
"We can and we will reopen our schools, but with an even higher and more stringent standard," he said. "That's the bottom line. New York City schools will come back. It's gonna require a lot more testing, but we will bring them back."
Parents and school leaders were put on notice in recent days as the city's virus infection rate approached 3% — a measurement established with the teacher's union over the summer in order to reach an agreement to reopen schools in the first place, CBS New York reported.
There's renewed pressure to change the 3% threshold. But the teachers union doesn't appear to be willing to budge.
"It was put forth by the city's doctors, and confirmed by the doctors we are working with, that that is the appropriate number," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said.
Testing in schools will be central to reopening, but other than that the city and state have not come together to come up with a plan. Inside schools, the infection rate is well below half a percent.
Now, the city is looking at more restrictions.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a cluster action initiative last month to address COVID-19 hotspots. Brooklyn, Queens, Broome, Orange and Rockland counties were placed in various color zones with restrictions for a minimum of two weeks — red (the cluster itself), orange (a warning zone) and yellow (a precautionary zone).
At 3%, New York City now finds itself staring at the orange zone. The state will make the call based on its numbers, CBS New York reported.
"What happens at 3%? Houses of worship, mass gatherings, business restrictions, dining restrictions, schools close," Cuomo said during a press conference Tuesday.
In addition to schools going remote, orange means:
- Houses of worship are limited to 33% capacity, 25 people maximum.
- Mass gatherings 10 people maximum indoors and outdoors, a limit the governor had already enacted statewide last week.
- Gyms and personal care non-essential businesses close.
- Indoor dining closes. Outdoor remains, but with only four people maximum per table.