NEW YORK — Wednesday saw a series of new developments that showed New York is continuing to open up in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
New figures show that tourism is returning and executive orders from Albany lift many restrictions on some of the nightlife that those tourists, and locals, may enjoy. Still, not everyone’s pleased with the pace at which some of the changes are coming, and even though vaccinations continue to increase, the rate at which they’re happening is reducing, which presents a variety of new challenges.
Priyank Patel owns Felicity Pharmacy in the Crotona section of the Bronx. It has administered coronavirus vaccines for a couple of months.
Lately, however, according to Dr. Patel, it’s been much different.
“Two and a half or three weeks ago,” he said, “this place would be filled.” Now, only the occasional person comes in, seeking a vaccination.
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio made an appeal to pharmacies to allow walk-in appointments.
Patel’s pharmacy does them, but he said that it’s easier said than done.
“It’s hard to plan for walk-ins,” he said. “There’s 10 doses in a Moderna [vial],” he continued, adding that he has to wait until he’s got 10 people seeking the vaccine, before he can administer it. “I don’t want to waste those doses.”
Overall, Patel said, it shows that things are improving — about half of all New Yorkers have gotten at least a first dose of vaccine. Still, he added, that means that half of the city hasn’t been vaccinated.
It’s a sign of New York rising, but with some distance yet to go.
It was a similar message in Times Square on Wednesday.
There, State Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli discussed his latest report on New York tourism.
“Almost 13 months after the pandemic began,” he said in an outdoor press conference, “we’re seeing that New York City is inching back.” The report showed a gradual return of tourists after a 73% drop last year.
One area where some of that foot traffic is returning is Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
Along this historically Italian-American commerce street, some of the business owners were talking about some COVID-19 restrictions that are being lifted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On Wednesday, the governor announced that he’ll lift the restriction that requires food and beverage service to end at midnight at state eateries.
Paul Di Silvio, the owner of Gene Bean’s Festival of Fun on Arthur Avenue said that the change will be helpful.
“We can stay open until one in the morning,” he said, which helps business. “The patrons are coming out of the dining areas, so people want to dine a little later, [and] have a cocktail, a beverage.”
The governor’s order lifts the midnight curfew on food and beverage service outdoors, starting on May 17. The indoor curfew lifts May 3 and a 1 a.m. curfew on catered events where guests have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test lifts on the 17th also. The 1 a.m. curfew for all catered events goes away May 31.
But some business owners on Arthur Avenue said that mid-to-late May is too late.
David Greco owns Mike’s Deli in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market.
He said that even though his business isn’t open late, and that his eatery has managed to thrive through the pandemic, all businesses need fewer restrictions.
“Hello,” he said, “I can’t wait. Businesses are shutting down.”