Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio: End it.
End New York City’s lockdown. Not next Monday, now. Not a piecemeal “Phase One” ending that means construction and manufacturing can resume, along with curbside retail. End it all. Start bringing this city back to life before it’s too late.
End it. Sorry, but your precious metrics and thresholds are as aflame as the average NYPD cruiser.
Yes, you both expressed worry Monday morning about infection spikes in the coming weeks due to the protesters (though the mayor had to be prompted via a reporter’s question), but you both barely mentioned it in your weekend briefings. By opting not to impose either citywide or statewide curfews over four nights — by waiting to announce a curfew for Monday evening — you essentially conceded the rules do not apply for the marching thousands.
That means you both made the decision that certain things — political protest — are more important than public health considerations. Little more than two weeks ago, New Yorkers saw police officers throwing a young mother forcibly to the ground for the “offense” of not having her mask on incorrectly. Yet for four days, thousands marched and assembled close together, hardly any social distancing either with themselves or with the police (many of whom were maskless). The rules do not apply for mass protest.
It’s time to end them for everyone else who have been scrupulously altering their behavior for three months.
We respect the hard work done to tamp down infection and death over a hellish three months. Sunday saw a new statewide low of just 54 deaths — meaning an even smaller number in the city. You both have credited us with having done that hard work.
But the people have decided that enough is enough, the protests making manifest clues there for some time.
The public just happens to be ahead of our two daddies’ sclerotic technocratic assessments and daily lectures on when we’re “ready” — just as it was in the beginning:
When people began staying in before the formal lockdown began.
When parents began keeping kids from home while you two dithered over when the schools should be closed.
When residents began gobbling up masks and donning mouth-covering well before the CDC and you realized that they could be vital tools against asymptomatic transmission.
End it. After three months closed, business owners know the risks and they know the precautions they have to take to bring back their customers. And customers know the risks too; they’ll make decisions themselves on which establishments to frequent. We’ve been practicing for three months.
Sure, give us some basic guidance. Sure, make masks mandatory in this densest of cities. And, frankly, the rest of the public will do it in safer ways than those marching (who won’t be chanting at the top of their lungs, in a potentially “viral” fashion).
But end it, because this city is at its breaking point, with stress seen by all — regular citizen and police officer alike. It has been for a while, even if you haven’t realized it.
On Thursday, the mayor responded to a reporter’s question about small business owners screaming to get back to business, some even jumping the gun, desperate to save their failing livelihoods (even as big box retailers were allowed to remain open). His cavalier answer: “And look, we’re talking about phase one beginning in a week or two at this point. I don’t think it’s too much for people to be asked to wait until they get the all clear to do the thing that’s safe, to do the thing that’s healthy because these numbers, these are about human lives.”
You “don’t think it’s too much for people to be asked to wait”? Really, Mr. Mayor? In a differently desperate moment, a certain Southern Baptist preacher explained “why we can’t wait.” Many of those marching in the streets now are doing so, spiritually under his banner. Black people still can’t wait for justice. The protesters — peaceful or otherwise — didn’t bother to wait until they got “the all clear” to take to the streets. But this city of all colors — economically, emotionally and spiritually beaten down — can’t wait either.
If, God help us, there is an infection spike in two weeks, do you seriously believe that those of us who scrupulously followed the rules will happily be told we have to wait even longer to resume our lives just because a few thousand broke quarantine (no matter how legitimate their cause)? Forget it. The precedent has been set and affirmed by our mayor and governor: Political protest is a legitimate cause to take to the streets. You will have made marching for an end to the lockdown legitimate.
End it. We’ve all seen — playing out on our big and small screens — what just one week can mean to a nation. To a city already staggering on its knees, two weeks could mean the fatal blow. As favorite watering holes, restaurants, unique historical business and cultural touchstones have already faded to black, many others are likely to follow. The question is, can the economic damage be contained, even as open and shuttered establishments are endangered by physical damage from saboteurs perverting the name of George Floyd because they just want to see things burn?
End it. Because, as the old saying goes, idle hands are the devil’s playthings. With historically high jobless numbers, there is little reason for these protests to stop organically. In “normal” times, Monday would roll around and a weekend of protest would subside to the realities of work obligations. Except for millions of New Yorkers today, there is no work to return to. And, under current rules, there may not be for several more weeks.
Turbo-charge hope, gentlemen. If supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores can operate with social distancing, so can clothing stores, book stores and countless others. Let them. Let the restaurants start up their grills. Let the bars turn on the taps.
Before it ends us.
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