NYC threatens to shut non-essential businesses in COVID hotspots if cases keep risingSeptember 25, 2020
The city Health Department said they will shut non-essential businesses and limit gatherings in the city’s coronavirus hotspots if cases continue to rise in the areas.
The reopening rollbacks could hit nine “cluster” sites where virus cases have ticked up, including a large swath of southern Brooklyn and Williamsburg — as well as Kew Gardens and Edgemere-Far Rockaway in Queens.
The Health Department will ramp up inspections in the areas to assure mask compliance and social distancing practices, the department said in a press release.
The measures could come as early as Tuesday. If cases continue to rise, the city will consider banning all gatherings of more than 10 people; issuing fines to those refusing to wear a mask when offered; closing private schools and care centers; and shutting down non-essential businesses.
“If the indicators continue to rise, there must be additional enforcement actions,” the department said. “For the first time in the city’s recovery period, there could be the immediate scaling back of activities in these ZIP codes if progress is not made by Monday evening.”
In Brooklyn, the outbreak has hit predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. One hotspot, known as the “Ocean Parkway cluster,” includes Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst.
Case increases in that cluster have also been accompanied by a jump in positive tests from Williamsburg, another major hub of Orthodox life.
Mayor de Blasio on Wednesday warned that the city would be cracking down on the clusters to stop the spread but didn’t link the rise to the Orthodox community.
Mask compliance has been “overwhelmingly low” in the hotspots across both boroughs, the Health Department said Thursday.
The city will be rolling out mobile testing sites to the impacted neighborhoods as Health Department workers canvas the areas to distribute face coverings, hand sanitizer and coronavirus literature.
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