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As New COVID Restrictions Loom Citywide, Schools Reopen In Staten Island's Orange Zone

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As more schools reopened Wednesday on Staten Island, restaurants across the five boroughs braced for a seemingly inevitable second shutdown.

PS 32 welcomed students back with a sign that read, "We missed you." Teachers collected COVID testing consent forms and took temperatures at the door.

"I'm so happy they're back, because they don't learn anything at home," parent Samuel Ajucum told CBS2.

"I'm happy that the kids are back, because the kids are happy. But there's still a big fear," said grandparent Regina Schulman.

3-k, pre-k and elementary schools in Staten Island's orange zone reopened for in-person learning.

"This is ridiculous," grandparent Betty Cambria said. "I think if you're closing restaurants, you're closing the bars, why are the kids back in school?"

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio Discusses Coronavirus Vaccine & More 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Monday if the hospitalization rate in the city doesn't come down, indoor dining will shut down.

"It's very disappointing," said Upper East Side resident Herb Wilson, who dines out every morning.

Wilson was at Neil's coffee shop Wednesday for what could be one of his last indoor experiences for a while.

"Obviously, anything to help is a good idea," he said. "So it's positive, however, I do feel bad for the owners of restaurants, the trouble they're in right now."

Victor Orango has been working at Neil's for 40 years. He said being surrounded by empty breakfast tables is a scary sign of the times.

"Makes me nervous, not only for me but for everybody else who works here," he said. "Not only us, everybody. You could tell around the neighborhood -- about seven businesses have shut down already in the three-block area."


Mayor Bill de Blasio anticipates more restrictions, but focused Wednesday's press briefing on the vaccine. The city's first doses are expected next week.

"This is something that's going to change lives and protect people very quickly starting this month in this city," he said.

Not everyone is convinced that closing restaurants is the solution.

"I'm not sure what the solution is, but I don't know that indoor dining is as much of a spreading event as much as noncompliance with things like masks and gatherings and that kind of thing probably have a bigger impact," said Marc Winthrop, of the Upper East Side.

Holiday gatherings are a major concern for health officials, who say we likely won't see the impact of holiday spread until mid-January. They're urging people to do their part to keep hospital beds empty and businesses open.


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