By Associated Press - Thursday, November 19, 2020

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City’s public schools are closed. Will restaurants and bars be next?

The day after he announced that New York City schools would close to in-person learning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that other businesses will likely shut down within a week or two, as well, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

De Blasio noted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, has indicated that all of New York City could be declared an orange zone under the state’s guidelines, which would trigger the shutdown of gyms, as well as indoor service at bars and restaurants.

Private schools might have to meet new virus testing requirements for pupils. Attendance at houses of worship would be limited to 25 people.

“I think from what the governor said yesterday, and the numbers certainly reflect it, I don’t think it’s ‘if’ the city is going into an orange zone, it’s a ‘when’ the city’s going into an orange zone,” the mayor said.

Under Cuomo’s guidelines, the governor can designate parts of the state where 3% of COVID-19 tests come back positive over seven days as orange zones. The state’s current orange zones include parts of Chemung County and Westchester County.

New York has reported nearly 61,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 14 days. That’s nearly as many as reported in June, July and August combined. And it’s triple the amount reported in the first two weeks of October.

Central and western parts of New York state continue to face heightened spread, but infections are also rising in New York City and its suburbs. The city reported about 8,900 cases over the past seven days, nearly double the amount reported two weeks ago.

Cuomo announced Thursday he’s adding yellow zone restrictions to new parts of Rockland and Orange counties, which requires weekly testing of students and teachers.

Cuomo on Wednesday lifted a previous yellow zone in another part of Orange County, which has reported 1,350 cases over the past 14 days, up from about 800 over the previous two weeks.

When de Blasio announced Wednesday that public school buildings would be closed at least through Thanksgiving weekend, some parents wondered why the schools were closing when restaurants were still open.

De Blasio said he was sympathetic to those complaints, but added: “Looking at the state’s own number system, we’re talking a week or two before we’re in that orange zone status.”

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