What’s beyond Phase 4, will social distancing rules be loosened and what of NYC’s Future?

New York’s regions have individually crossed over from one phase to another as part of the State’s reopening and economic recovery plans. With each phase encompassing different industries the latest big transition to expect should be certain regions which entered Phase 3 on June 12.

These regions include: Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier.

Following the 14 day standard transition time already set forth, these regions should then be entering Phase 4 on this Friday, June 26. That’s 14 days after their entry into Phase 3 on June 12.

So, what does that mean? According to the official page, the industries to be allowed to reopen are Education (for which there are detailed guidelines) and the following: Arts / Entertainment / Recreation. The latter of which had no detailed guidelines.

Our educated guess (which doesn’t really have to be very educated at all) figures that any form of entertainment allowed would require a limited level of capacity (say 50%?).

Does phase 4 include the reopening of gyms? Would outdoor street fairs and markets be allowed (again at limited capacity)?

‘and what’s beyond this?

NYC’s just recently entered Phase 2 on June 22 and should expect to enter Phase 3 on July 6 with an entry into Phase 4 on July 20.

50% capacity seems to be the magic allowable number. Considering how six feet of social distancing is the supposed ideal then 50% fits right in.

What will be the guiding light towards going beyond 50% capacity? Will it never come as long as there is no vaccine? Not that we’re in a great hurry but the question has to be asked.

Or will Governor Cuomo go ahead and finally apply that which his Budget Director, Robert Mujica has stated in the past. “Wearing a mask next to other people that are wearing masks, even if you’re not socially distancing has been safe,” said Mr. Mujica.

The Governor himself has pushed for folks to feel comfortable and safe within the Subways. So if you can try to stuff us into sardine cans then 50% shouldn’t be a concern anywhere else. Of course, we’re not yet at the point when crowded subway cars a big concern.

I’ve walked the streets of Manhattan repeatedly over the past weeks. I’ll tell you that the streets were almost as empty on the first day of Phase 2 as they were for Phase 1. Same applies to the subway.

Maybe, once phase 4 allows for entertainment industries to reopen there’ll be a greater presence of people on the streets. Yet, is that really reigniting our economy?

Surely, we can’t expect businesses to continue going on with only 50% of their workforce and, of course, not everyone’s able to create a tele-work sort of environment.

As for retail, how many such businesses are able to survive with a limited stream of customers?

Are we doomed, for the foreseeable future, as a city that’s depended so much on tourism for so long? How many of our residents will be splurging when there’s no income flowing in? Oh sure, there are those who’ll be able to enjoy that nonessential restaurant outing, Broadway show or whatever other item they can easily afford. But what of the rest?

Can this city stand as it once had? That is, trying to adhere to these set guidelines of social distancing and limited capacities?

Both the Mayor and the Governor have spoken of re-imagining the city and the state. Seems like their idea of re-imagining might end up being a bit more drastic than that which they’ve imagined. Or maybe, it’s just a matter of how much they’re willing to admit? Meaning, maybe just maybe, they know the extent of our being screwed and simply can’t admit it.

Interestingly, Mayor de Blasio can’t keep himself from bringing up the Great Depression. As far as I can see, he first made mention in the middle of March and he’s referenced it dozens of times ever since. Had he been preparing us all this time?

This is the same man who went far in assuring that no one went without a meal. I wonder how many of our previous mayors might’ve possessed the foresight to think in that way. He’s also the man who correctly forecast our first 1,000 cases of COVID-19 followed by our next 10,000. Is he trying to tell us something else? Is the worst still ahead of us? Or the best?