New York City welcomed close to 67 million visitors in 2019. Yet the entire city has been under stay-at-home orders since March 22, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, of course, tourism stopped completely. That’s a whole lot of visitors (and visitors’ money) that it’s been missing. In fact, Fortune Magazine says that NYC is losing about $173 million per day.
“The coronavirus crisis is shrinking New York City’s economy on a scale far more vast than the squeeze on any other US metropolis,” Fortune wrote. “The Big Apple so exceeds the rest of urban America in damage suffered mostly because it’s the epicenter of the outbreak and also because an extremely high proportion of its workforce is employed in restaurants, bars, hotels, theaters, and retail, all businesses hyper-vulnerable to the collapse in tourism that has pounded the world’s most visited destination.”
So when can we start going to NYC again?
Well, the wheels of progress are finally turning.
Phase 1 of the city’s reopening started on Monday, June 8th. That means construction and manufacturing can start up again, and some stores such as retail clothing, electronics, jewelry, sporting goods, florists and luggage stores have opened again.
If all goes well, Phase 2 will begin roughly 2 to 3 weeks after Phase 1 (the mayor of NYC is hinting at early July). At that point, outdoor dining will be allowed, but only outdoor seating (they’re taking this seriously – sidewalks, parking lots and even streets are going to be allowed for restaurants). More retail will open up, as well as salons & barber shops, real estate services, car dealerships and offices.
There currently isn’t as much guidance for Phase 3 (or 4) – they’re both further out and more planning still needs to be done. But Phase 3 will have more focus on the hospitality industry. So restaurants will be able to use their indoor space (albeit with reduced capacity). Hotels will be able to reopen amenities such as pools, gyms and their in-house restaurants in Phase 3.
Phase 4 will bring back NYC’s culture. Broadway. Museums. Concerts. Movie theaters. Venues. The arts.
But even with all of that, there’s nothing that really says when New York will be open to tourists. As long as precautions such as social distancing need to stay in place, each venue will need to evaluate how (or if) it will approach visitors.
- Museums, as indoor spaces, will need to set up systems for mandatory face coverings. That should be easy enough and particularly well-known museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art are hoping to reopen in August or September. But spaces such as children’s museums, which include gears to turn and buttons to press and flaps to open, probably will have to make their spaces more “touch free” before they can open up again.
- Broadway theaters really pack people in and you need a nearly full audience just to break even (that’s why shows that are consistently 2/3 or sometimes even 3/4 full close up – it’s not profitable). That won’t work with social distancing.
- Not culture related, but sports won’t be happening anytime soon in NYC. The Yankees and Mets still don’t have plans for the season and NY’s beloved NY Rangers and NY Islanders hockey teams will be in the NHL Playoffs but those games will be played somewhere else. The Brooklyn Nets are in the NBA Playoffs taking place at Walt Disney World (it’s been confirmed)
- There’s no word on when NY’s famous landmarks such as Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty will reopen.
The Coalition for NYC Hospitality & Tourism Recovery has been put into place for city leaders to discuss how to get the city back on its feet for tourism. Its leadership has some of the top names in Broadway, hotels, retail, museums and dance, and dozens of allied organizations have signed up. They’ll be focusing on messaging, marketing and promotion, and “to safely engage, mobilize and champion all sectors of NYC’s tourism economy once the City begins to emerge from the pandemic.”
So when will NYC officially be open to visitors? There’s really no set time yet. As you can see, there are still plenty of kinks that need to be worked out. Plus, of course, virtually everything is dependent on how things go during each phase, when and if a second and possibly third wave occur(s), etc.
It’s a shame that so many cities reopening can’t give an exact date of when they’ll be ready to accept travelers. But there are just too many unknowns to do that when you want to ensure keeping everyone safe.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary