NEW YORK - Pointing to a successful effort to vaccinate millions of New Yorkers from the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that his goal is for New York City to fully reopen on July 1 with most COVID-related restrictions lifted. But his political nemesis, NY Gov Andrew Cuomo, says not so fast.
"On July 1, all systems go because you earned it," said de Blasio during a briefing on the pandemic. "We are going to keep working hard every day to keep making this city safer and safer. What you have done is the reason we can make this announcement today. You've gone out and gotten vaccinated."
Stores, businesses, offices, theaters would fully reopen.
"This is going to be the summer of New York City. People are going to flock here from all over the country. It means going to stores. It means bars and restaurants being able to come back, bring back their employees, and to serve so many more customers," de Blasio said. "And it means that so many of our cultural events being open again, theaters coming back."
The mayor doesn't have unilateral power to lift remaining pandemic restrictions. Gov. Cuomo has maintained throughout the pandemic that decisions on when restaurants, theaters, offices, and other places can open at full capacity are his alone.
A short time after de Blasio made the announcement, Cuomo reminded the mayor who was in charge.
"The mayor of New York, I don't know what he is indicative of," said Cuomo with a chuckle during a briefing in Buffalo. "Ask the people of New York City how they feel about the mayor of New York City and I would second their opinion."
De Blasio's press secretary responded online: "serial sexual assaulter says what?"
The pair have had a contentious relationship that doesn't appear to be letting up.
"I think the balance of power has shifted a lot in Albany. I think the legislature is running the State of New York and thank God for it," said de Blasio.
The mayor had been asked about the state's role in his decision to fully reopen earlier in the day on "Morning Joe." He responded that the state and federal governments "always have a say" but added, "What I'm saying is we here in New York City, we're ready to come back and come back strong."
When asked during his briefing about the plan for reopening schools, de Blasio said the goal was to accommodate every child for in-person instruction.
About half of all adults in the city have now had at least one vaccine dose. 6,427,404 doses of the vaccine have been administered.
De Blasio said that the mask mandate in place for more than one year could also change.
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"We will make adjustments as we go along. We think it's important to advised people to carry on certain practices, we will. I am convinced that many New Yorkers will still want to use their masks, many times, in a voluntary basis. This is the right goal. Job one, get people vaccinated. As we see more and more data, we'll make adjustments as we get closer," said de Blasio.
The mayor updated the latest COVID indicators Thursday including 97 patients admitted to NYC hospitals and a hospitalization rate of 2.1% per 100,000. The number of new cases on a seven-day rolling average was 1,354. The citywide positivity rate was 3.18%.
On Wednesday, Cuomo announced the curfew would be lifted for outdoor dining areas beginning May 17 and for indoor dining areas beginning May 31.
Starting May 3, seating at bars will be allowed in New York City, consistent with the food services guidance that is in effect statewide.
"We know the COVID positivity rate is a function of our behavior, and over the last year New Yorkers have remained disciplined and continued with the practices we know work to stop the spread of the virus," Cuomo said.
With The Associated Press