New York City, the hardest-hit spot in the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, will start easing its restrictions on businesses in phases from June 8 as the local spread of the virus has apparently peaked, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
Restrictions will be lifted in four stages, with construction among the first business sectors allowed to resume some activities, Cuomo indicated.
According to the governor, public transportation ridership is expected to increase by up to 400,000 people per day during the first phase, with the total remaining far below pre-pandemic levels.
Amid the lingering fear of virus infection, the city will continue to close the subway system overnight to disinfect trains and will task personnel with preventing train cars from becoming overcrowded.
As easing social-distancing restrictions too rapidly could potentially trigger a second wave of the virus outbreak, Cuomo emphasized continued caution in reopening the city.
"We have to be smart," he said. "People have to wear masks. But the public transit system will be safe, and individuals will make their own choice as they always do."
Wide-scale social-distancing measures have been in place in New York City since late March, with major tourist sites such as Times Square and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan remaining desolate amid a lack of tourists.
All 50 U.S. states have moved to begin reopening their economies. Parts of New York State outside the city have already begun easing social distancing due to a sustained decline in the number of new infections and deaths from the coronavirus.
New York City has confirmed about 199,000 infections with over 21,000 fatalities, including suspected cases.