New York City restaurants are already starting to reopen as Gov Andrew Cuomo has raised indoor dining capacity while rising temperatures have enabled restaurants to seat more people outdoors. But New Yorkers eager to get back to "normal" will need to wait a few more months, as Mayor Bill de Blasio just confirmed during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that the city will "fully reopen" on July 1.
That's the date when New Yorkers can expect all businesses to reopen at 100% capacity, the mayor said. The city's schools, which reopen part-time for in-person learning last month, will be back at "full strength" come the fall, de Blasio added. "We're ready to take the pathway to a full reopening".
De Blasio credited the city's rapid vaccination push for opening the door to re-opening.
"Our plan is to fully reopen New York City on July 1. We are ready for stores to reopen, for businesses to reopen, offices, businesses, theaters - full strength. 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 grass roots."
While cautioning people to be "smart" about their health, de Blasio said that that "we now have the confidence that we can pull all of these pieces together and get life back, really, in many ways, to where it was."
De Blasio added that the Museum of Natural History has joined the vaccination effort and is currently giving jabs "under the blue whale" while offering free admission as an incentive.
"This is going to be the summer of New York City," de Blasio added. "You're going to see amazing activities, cultural activities coming back. I think people are going to flock to New York City, because they want to live again."
Asked about potential pushback from Gov. Cuomo, de Blasio said "state government and federal government always have a say"..."but as mayor of New York City, we're ready to come back and come back strong."
For many, this statement will likely elicit images of packed rooftop bars and crowded downtown streets packed with revelers looking to enjoy the start of another "Roaring 20s". It's also has major implications for the US reopening effort more broadly, seeing as NYC is the most populous city in the country, and was also the first major COVID-19 "hot spot". Fortunately, it looks like this summer will be better than last summer, which was mostly characterized by city residents fleeing to stay with relatives in the suburbs as the city filled with the sound of ambulances ferrying the dead and dying to overcrowded hospitals staffed by nurses wearing garbage-bag gowns instead of proper PPE.