De Blasio says New York City will ‘fully reopen’ by July 1

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday he expects to see COVID-19 restrictions lifted and the city “fully reopen” by July 1.

“We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength,” the Democratic mayor said on MSNBC.

De Blasio cited rising COVID-19 vaccination rates and decreasing hospitalization rates for his optimistic projection. About half of all adults in the city have now had at least one vaccine dose.

“What we can say with assurance is, we’re giving COVID no room to run in New York City,” de Blasio said.

At a virtual news briefing later Thursday, he added: “This is going to be the summer of New York City. We are all going to get to enjoy this city again, and people are going to flock here from all over the country to be a part of this amazing moment in New York City.

The mayor doesn’t have unilateral power to lift remaining pandemic restrictions. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has maintained throughout the pandemic that decisions on when restaurants, theaters, offices and other places can open at full capacity are his alone.

Asked at his briefing if he had spoken to the governor about his reopening plans, de Blasio said, “I have not, and I think the best way to proceed here is to set out the city’s vision.”

De Blasio said the city will work with the state and federal governments but added, “It’s quite clear, it’s time to set a goal and move on that goal.”

Cuomo said later Thursday that he would like to lift COVID-19 restrictions sooner than July 1 if possible, but he scoffed at the idea of the mayor making the call.

“I want to open up New York City Tuesday. I want to open it up Wednesday. I want Buffalo fully opened on Thursday,” the governor said at a briefing in Buffalo. “It’s a statewide management system and we are managing it by the science, by the data. You look at the number and you will see the rate of opening.”

Cuomo added, “I don’t want to wait that long. I think if we do what we have to do, we can be reopened earlier.”

Cuomo controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and has the power to restore 24-hour service on the subways, which are now closed from 2 to 4 a.m. De Blasio said he believes July 1 is “the right time” to bring 24-hour subway service back.

De Blasio said the goal for Broadway theaters is still to open fully in September. He said he hopes some smaller productions can open by July.