New York City Phase 2 reopening: Guidelines


Outdoor dining, retail, hair salons and more will be opening their doors starting Monday. Phase 2 of New York City’s reopening started this past Monday. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that NYC was on track to open on June 22, exactly two weeks from when we entered Phase 1.

While Phase 1 did not affect most New Yorkers—only curbside pick-up at stores is allowed and manufacturing and construction jobs are back online—Phase 2 marks the return of many things we love: outdoor dining, in-store shopping, getting our hair done and more. To help understand what’s coming up, we’ve answered a few big questions you might have:

When can we begin Phase 2?

Summer is here, so when can we start acting like it? We officially started on Monday. New York State has been monitoring whether New York City meets meet seven health-related benchmarks. Basically, hospitalization and infection data must not show that more people are being infected with the virus than hospitals can handle. If those markers remain in check, as they are right now, then NYC will continue though the reopening plan. (The New York Forward Plan establishes a minimum of two-week intervals between a region’s transition from one phase to the next.) International experts look at our data and determine if its best to move forward.

What will open?

All office-based jobs, real estate services, and retail can reopen so long as each business has a detailed plan of how they’ll meet state health standards.

Open during Phase 2:

  • All office-based jobs:
  • professional services, administrative support, information technology
  • Real estate services:
  • building and property management, leasing, rental and sales services
  • Retail:
  • in-store shopping, rental, repair and cleaning, barbershops and hair salons with limited service, motor vehicle leasing, rental and sales
  • and outdoor dining!

You mean I can get a haircut now?

Yes, but it will be very different. Salons and barbershops must follow state regulations, which include making sure employees keep six feet away from each other, reducing occupancy to under 50 percent, keeping confined spaces to one person only (that means one person at a time on elevators and behind cash registers), limiting in-person meetings and doing them in a well-ventilated area with social distancing, providing protective gear like masks for employees, doing daily healthcare screenings, constant cleanings, and putting up signs and markers to help employees keep their distance. No walk-ins will be taken, either.

We can go inside to shop now, too?

Yes! State guidelines also apply to retail shops, so expect to see limits on how many people can be in a store at once, distancing signage, and employees and customers in masks. It won’t be back to normal for sure, but it’s a step toward some normalcy.

Can we dine inside restaurants? 

Not yet. Most restaurants are already doing delivery and takeout, but now we’ll be able to enjoy outdoor dining. Restaurants will be able to fully re-open with state-issued safety precautions during Phase 3.

OK, but will I have to go back to the office?

It depends on your company — they will be allowed to bring you back in, but some businesses may opt out of opening right away or may bring back employees in phases.

What else is still closed?

Sadly, malls, indoor dining at restaurants, bars, large gatherings, gyms, movie theaters and places of public amusement (amusement parks, carnivals, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children’s attractions) will still be off-limits.

Do we still have to wear a mask? What about social distancing?

Yes, and each business has guidance by the state that it must follow, including keeping occupancy in office buildings at 50 percent, doing daily health screenings of its employees, requiring everyone to wear masks or provide barriers if six feet cannot be maintained between people, putting up signs and distance markers, limiting in-person meetings and refraining from the communal sharing of food and drinks in larger areas. So that free pizza? It’s gone for now. “It’s not just open the doors, and everybody has a party,” Gov. Cuomo said last week.

Will it be safe to go out?

While it’s impossible to say what the future holds, the number of cases are still decreasing every day. We’ll have to continue to wear masks and social distance during Phase 2, which means that if everyone follows the guidelines, things should be relatively safe.

How will public transportation work? Is the city still going to clean the subway?

The MTA’s subway and buses have been back to full service since Phase 1 started. You can expect to catch a train as you used to, however, there are new protocols in place:

  • The subway will remain closed overnight between the hours of 1am and 5am for cleaning. Crews will “remove trash, clean spills and biohazards, spot-clean seats, floors, and other surfaces, and disinfect common touch points.” Stations, especially end-of-the-line terminals, are being cleaned throughout the day; trains will be cleaned overnight at subway yards. In addition to using EPA-approved disinfectants, the MTA is experimenting with additional methods to mitigate the presence of coronavirus such as UV lights, antimicrobial agents that seal surfaces against the virus and electrostatic sprayers that ensure complete coverage of disinfectants.
  • It’s mandatory to wear a mask while in the station and on the train. If you forget to bring a mask, one will be provided to you for free as will small bottles of hand sanitizer.
  • Yellow floor decals in the shape of footprints have been installed to mark the optimal space for social distancing along with other signage (also in yellow) reminding you to wear a mask and take other precautions.
  • MTA employees will be wearing enhanced PPE, and will have their temperatures regularly taken. They will also receive regular Covid-19 and antibody testing.
  • On buses, rear door entry and exiting is still in place, which means you will get to effectively ride local buses for free. Riders on Select Bus Service, however, still must pay at curbside fare-boxes.
  • As with the subway, wearing a mask while riding the bus is mandatory, and vehicles are being regularly cleaned and disinfected.



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