NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that officials have set a goal to "fully reopen" New York City in July, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hoping to get it done sooner.
“Our plan is to fully reopen New York City on July 1,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters—full strength,” the mayor said. “Because look, what we’re seeing is people have gotten vaccinated in extraordinary numbers—6.3 million vaccinations in New York City to date.”
“We know the vaccination effort’s going to grow and grow,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio said the city’s healthcare teams looked at the numbers and that the city is “well on the way” to a full return.
“We’re giving COVID no room to run anymore in New York City,” the mayor said. “We’ve said a month or so ago, it was the variants versus the vaccinations, what was going to win, which one was going to win the race. Vaccination is winning this race.”
De Blasio said “COVID is plummeting,” giving the city “the confidence we can pull all these pieces together and get life back, really in many ways, to where it was, where people can enjoy an amazing summer.”
“This is going to be the summer of New York City. You’re going to see amazing activities, cultural activities coming back. I think people are going to flock to New York City, because they want to live again,” the mayor said.
While the plan to fully reopen was welcomed by many throughout New York City, many are still worried about the road to recovery.
Andrew Rigie, with the NYC Hospitality Alliance, says some restaurants could be open at 100% capacity tomorrow, but others would take weeks to reach pre-pandemic numbers as Manhattan remains essentially empty.
He says the sooner restaurants can get to 100%, the better, but the city and state need to get on the same page quickly as all reopening decisions are ultimately made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"Look, the federal government, State government always have a say, but I'm saying as leader in New York City, we're ready to come back and come back strong. All of the indicators show it," de Blasio said. "We're focused on the data and the science. That's how we've made every decision, that's what's worked, and the data and the science are saying out loud, it's time to come back."
The mayor said he hasn't yet talked to the governor about his plan.
"I think the best way to proceed here is to set out the city's vision," de Blasio said. "We're going to work with the federal government, we're going to work with the state government, but it's quite clear it's time to set a goal and move on that goal. So we'll work with all the other levels of government, but we've gotta keep moving toward a goal at this point."
He appeared emboldened by the shift of power in Albany.
"I think we see the handwriting on the wall. Reducing the governor's emergency powers constantly, I think they're gonna do some more that. I'd like to see them take the whole big step and just bring us back to normal democracy so we can make these decisions and move forward properly," de Blasio said.
Just a day prior, the State Legislature repealed several executive orders issued by the governor.
"I think this is a goal that makes sense. It made sense to our healthcare team, the data, the science speak to it, the number of vaccinations speak to it. I think people are going to say it's time to come back fully and July 1st is a really fair date that we can make happen," de Blasio said.
The governor at his own briefing said he's reluctant to make reopening projections because they're "irresponsible," but is hoping for a "functional reopening" even earlier than July 1.
"You have May, you have June. What happens in May? What happens in June? I would like to get the hopeful reopening date before that, I don't want to wait that long. I think if we do what we have to do we can be reopened earlier," Cuomo said.
The governor cautioned that while the state is making great progress in the fight against COVID, he said, "We're not through the woods yet."
Cuomo said he is still tackling COVID vaccine hesitancy targeting two groups — the youthful and the doubtful.
According to state data, more than 6 million New Yorkers have been fully vaccinated — or about 32% of the population. Another 45% have had at least one dose.
The mayor said his plan relies on more New Yorkers getting vaccinated, adding there is no excuse now that city and state-run sites are open to all without an appointment.
"Now, what do we have to do? We have to keep getting vaccinated," de Blasio said at his regular briefing. "We have, as always, focused on the data and the science. And we now can set this goal because we've been moving forward constantly – more and more vaccinations, fewer and fewer infections, thank God. But we’ve got to keep doing that. Everyone who hasn't yet been vaccinated, come forward now. This is the time. This is the right moment. It's easier than ever. It's simple. It's convenient. Let's keep moving with vaccinations."
De Blasio also announced that Daniel Meyer, the CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, would be the new chair of the NYC Economic Development Corporation Board.