New York City is canceling street fairs, outdoor concerts, parades and other big events through September because of coronavirus as local officials try to keep city blocks open for restaurants and the public.
Large outdoor gatherings have been officially banned in New York since the spring, though thousands have taken to city streets to protest against police brutality. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said Thursday that the city’s ban will exempt “demonstrations, religious events and press conferences.”
The mayor said his city won’t issue permits for events larger than one block, street fairs, park events that could “unreasonably diminish” public use, events that require speakers and any event in a location that interferes with the city’s Open Streets and Open Restaurants program. He said the city will refund or defer fees paid in connection with denied permits.
"As New York has begun its reopening process, accessible open spaces are more important than ever," said de Blasio in a statement. "While it pains me to call off some of the city's beloved events, our focus now must be the prioritization of city space for public use and the continuation of social distancing."
He said New York has slowly reopened as the percentage of positive cases has appeared to decline from April peaks.
New York City is scheduled to enter into Phase 4 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening process during the week of July 20.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that another eight individuals with COVID-19 died in New York hospitals and nursing homes Wednesday.
The number of hospitalizations has declined overall since spiking in mid-April, but 851 individuals with COVID-19 were hospitalized Wednesday. That’s up from 817 Sunday, according to the Democrat’s office.
More than 32,280 people have died from complications with the respiratory virus in New York, according to data from Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard, which is the highest number of deaths out of all the 50 states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.