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De Blasio Says Monday's Phase One Reopening 'Very Important'; Too Soon To Consider Restoring Street Fairs, Large Events

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday's Phase One reopening of New York City is a moment "every New Yorker should celebrate as our achievement together."

De Blasio said Monday will be "a very important day in the history of this city."

The mayor said there were 72 hospitalizations for suspected coronavirus, 324 people in ICUs, and just 4% of people tested turned up positive for COVID-19.


The Phase One restart for the city will see an estimated 400,000 people get back to work. Tens of thousands of construction projects will spring to life, manufacturing sites will buzz again and retail will return -- for curbside pick-ups.

"The beginning of Phase One, the restart of the city, the restart of our economy, the restart of people's livelihoods," de Blasio said.

Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Gives Daily Briefing

Raoul Avila is an event planner with a retail store on West 22nd Street in the Flatiron District.

"Very, very happy. After three months of being home, I could not wait to get back to work," he told CBS2's Dave Carlin.

He gets his team back together and sees his customers' faces again, but he knows he won't see his pre-pandemic profits.

"Not making what we were making before, but at least it's a starting point," Avila said.

Other merchants wait, some of them victims of looting who need time to clean up and rebound.

Watch Jenna DeAngelis' report --

Others are concerned for employees using mass transit. Employers are being asked by the city to stagger schedules, offer flexible hours and consider work from home options.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority predicts continued lower ridership.

On the eve of the city's reopening, the MTA was gearing up subway stations to welcome back riders.

CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis met senior vice president for subways Sally Librera at the 96th Street station.

"We're disinfecting stations twice a day," she said.

Crews were cleaning subway cars, lining up hand sanitizer bottles and placing social distancing decals on the platforms.

Some riders still have concerns, however.

"In rush hour, it's more than 10 people, everybody's going to work at the same time. It's gonna be crowded inside the train," commuter Christy Chang said.

"How do you deal with social distancing on the subway trains?" DeAngelis asked Librera.

"Well, this is the New York City transit subway system and maintaining six feet isn't always possible," Librera said. "So we're laying out these visual cues to remind our riders to do what they can to distance themselves, to always wear face masks."

The MTA on Sunday said officials surveyed mask usage and found about 92% of subway riders are complying with the MTA's face covering requirement.

Two millions face masks will be available for commuters who need them.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While thousands are preparing to get back to work, no changes are coming to restaurants just yet.

Some restaurant owners, like Tommy Greco, feel they should be included in Phase One.

"I think there should have been something that was implemented a little bit," he said. "I definitely don't want to just open up to open up and put people's lives in danger, but I definitely feel with masks, with social distancing ... I'm comfortable."

He feels customers should have the choice, and by the looks of crowds in Hell's Kitchen, many seem ready.

But outdoor dining, de Blasio says, is Phase Two.

He also said it was not the right time to resume having street fairs and large events.

"That's hard to achieve if we're really going to keep a lid on this disease," he said.

The mayor said all decisions about reopening are being governed by what the daily indicators and metrics show.

RELATED STORY: Alternate Side Parking Suspended Until June 21 As NYC Reopens

De Blasio explained why the city may lag behind other regions in the state on Phase Two.

"According to the official chart of the state, it could be as little as two weeks 'til we get to Phase Two. I want to keep expectations a little lower than that," he said. "Think about the beginning of July as the target. I think that is a safer, smarter way to think about it."

The mayor does not, however, rule out the possibility of entering Phase Two earlier if the metrics stay favorable.

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