New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has canceled all large events and gatherings through September to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus — except Black Lives Matter protests.
Mr. de Blasio put the kibosh Thursday on all street fairs, outdoor concerts, parades and other mass get-togethers until at least Sept. 30, saying “it’s all about health and safety first” and “we actually look at the science.”
“[T]his is obviously the thing that President Trump doesn’t understand, we don’t just decree that we want things to happen regardless of the human impact,” Mr. de Blasio told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We actually look at the science. We look at the data. The data is telling us it is not time for large gatherings.”
The exception: Black Lives Matter protests. Asked if he would prohibit those, Mr. de Blasio said, “Look, Wolf, this is always an area of real sensitivity.”
“If you’re just talking about health, we would always say, hey, folks, you know, stay home if you can,” Mr. de Blasio said. “But we understand that this moment in history people are talking about the need for historic changes.”
The mayor participated in the painting Thursday of a large “Black Lives Matter” sign on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower, joining the Rev. Al Sharpton and a crowd of protesters.
“I mean, today, in New York City, you know, recognizing the power and the meaning of the message Black Lives Matter, which we did in front of Trump Tower today – this is a historic moment of change,” Mr. de Blasio said. “We have to respect that, but also say to people the kinds of gatherings we’re used to, the parades, the fairs — we just can’t have that while we’re focusing on health right now.”
Democrats such as Mr. de Blasio have been accused of a political double standard by allowing and even joining the thousands of protesters taking to the streets after the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, even as the same officials ban other large gatherings, limit business activity and impose head counts on churches.
A June working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that the George Floyd protests did not result in an overall increase in COVID-19 infections, finding that some people increased their sheltering in place to avoid the protests and speculating that there may have been a spike among demonstrators.
“[W]hile it is possible that the protests caused an increase in the spread of COVID-19 among those who attended the protests, we demonstrate that the protests had little effect on the spread of COVID-19 for the entire population of the counties with protests during the more than three weeks following protest onset,” the paper said. “In most cases, the estimated longer-run effect (post-21 days) was negative, though not statistically distinguishable from zero.”
The George Floyd protests also took place outside. Recent research has found that the chances of spreading the infection are as much as 20 times higher indoors than outdoors.
Many of the New York City events affected by the mayor’s cancellation take place outdoors, including the Dominican Day Parade in midtown Manhattan, the West Indian American Day Carnival in Brooklyn, and the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, the New York Post reported.