New York City cancels early summer concerts and festivals to curb coronavirus outbreak

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Mayor Bill de Blasio greets healthcare workers and conducts a press conference at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York, April 10, 2020.

EuropaNewswire | Gado | Getty Images

New York City is canceling concerts, festivals and all other nonessential events through May and considering the same for June as the city seeks to drive down  coronavirus infection rates throughout the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday.

“We’re not issuing any permits in the month of May,” he said at a news briefing. “This is an important decision to make, whether it really makes sense to have those giant gatherings, and some of them are huge in June.”

De Blasio said this means the Brooklyn Half Marathon and SummerStage in Central Park will be canceled. Such events, he said, go “against everything that we need to do to fight back the coronavirus.” He’s weighing keeping the public beaches closed, saying “I can’t see that yet” because the outbreak isn’t contained. De Blasio said he hasn’t made a decision on the beaches yet, but will announce it as soon as he does.  

“We have to be smart. We love those things, we’ll miss them when we don’t have them, but they will be back,” he said. “They will be back and by knowing when it’s time to temporarily let them go so we can get to a greater goal, we’re going to actually look back and say that was the smart thing to do.”

He said the decision applies to community and cultural events, but the city will continue to issue permits for medical sites like field hospitals and “anything related to food,” including farmer’s markets. He added that a decision will be made about June events “quickly.”

“Can I envision as early as June mass gatherings like some of these huge events that are beautiful events but they’re really mass gatherings, hundreds of thousands of people, in some cases more than a million?” he said. “I can’t see it, but I want to talk to the event organizers… I don’t see it for June.”

The announcement comes after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday the extension of the state’s shutdown of nonessential businesses to May 15. 

If there is “substantial spread” in the community, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends canceling all events of any size. Covid-19 has infected more than 123,146 people in New York City, killing at least 11,477 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The number of new hospitalizations due to Covid-19 in New York City dropped to 329 on Wednesday, down from 386 the day before, de Blasio said.

“This was a good day, definite movement in the right direction, not a perfect day yet,” de Blasio said. 

This is breaking news. Check back here for updates.

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