July 1 eyed as date of full reopening for New York City, de Blasio says

Mayor Bill de Blasio stands with the owner of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park during Coney Island’s reopening.
Photo via Brooklyn Paper/Erica Price

New York City is on track to fully reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic on July 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a nationally televised interview Thursday morning.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” de Blasio said all the slowing spread of the virus, combined with the continued number of vaccinations going on across the city, give him the optimism that the city will be able to fully reopen on the first day of July. 

“We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength,” he said. “What we’re seeing is people have gotten vaccinated in extraordinary numbers, 6.3 million vaccinations in New York City to date. We’re doing a lot to reach people at the grassroots level.”

De Blasio acknowledged that “we’ve got some work to do” to hit that July 1 goal, namely continuing the aggressive vaccination campaign and public cooperation to stop the spread of both standard COVID-19 and its variants. 

But the recent steep decline in infections and hospitalizations, the mayor said, give him the belief that the city can be back at full strength by his target date. He urged the public to continue getting vaccinated (if they haven’t already done so) and to follow the basic protocols in order to make the full reopening possible.

“Anyone who likes what I’m saying, help us out by getting vaccinated if you haven’t already,” de Blasio said. “Based on all the progress we’ve made in the city, we can go back to full strength. We want people to be smart and continue to do the things that have been proven to work.”

But the mayor’s best laid plans could always be upended by Governor Andrew Cuomo, as state authority supersedes the city. Capacity restrictions and business openings remain at the discretion of the governor through executive order, which can also be modified through state legislation.

Previously in the crisis, Cuomo overruled de Blasio on items from school closings to the resumption of indoor dining, among other matters. 

At his press conference Thursday, Cuomo threw a bit of cold water on de Blasio’s July 1 goal — but suggested that New York City might be able to open earlier than that.

“I would like to get the hopeful reopening date before that, I don’t want to wait that long,” Cuomo said. “I think if we do what we have to do we can be reopened earlier.”

De Blasio acknowledged that reality earlier on Thursday, but expressed confidence that the science and data would provide no reason for the city’s full reopening to be put off beyond July 1.

“The federal government and state government always have a say. But I’m saying as the leader of New York City that we’re ready to come back strong,” he said Thursday morning. “We’re focused on the data and the science, and the data and the science are saying out loud, ‘It’s time to come back.'”

The mayor also predicted this would be “the summer of New York City,” with the belief that people will again flock to the Big Apple and enjoy the fully reopened five boroughs “because people will want to live again.”