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Here's what you can and can't do in NYC right now

Collier Sutter
Written by
Collier Sutter

Last Friday, in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus, Governor Cuomo mandated that 100 percent of nonessential employees must stay at home and that all nonessential gatherings of any size, for any reason, were banned.

However, there are still some things that New Yorkers are able to do while the state is on "pause," including grocery shopping, ordering take-out and delivery from restaurants, walking dogs and solitary exercise. We've rounded up some questions that you may still have on the order, to clear up any confusion beyond those everyday basics. 

Is public transportation in NYC going to shut down?

No, though you should still be staying home as much as possible. Services are still running, mainly for those on the frontline (healthcare providers and pharmacists). The MTA did announce a suspension of some service this week, which includes a reduction of overall subway service by 25 percent. 

Buses will still be operating at 75 percent across the city with a few changes in protocol. Starting last Monday, New York City buses running locally require all riders to board through the rear door only in a bid to keep bus drivers safe. (This doesn't apply to those with limited mobility who may need to use other entrances.) Riders on express buses, which usually bring riders from the edge of NYC into Manhattan's center, can enter through either the front or rear, but are required to sit at least three rows behind the driver.

You can find the full rundown of any other service changes here.

Can I still go out to the park?

At the moment, yes, as long as you are keeping 6 feet apart from others while out. NYC parks remain open, at least through Saturday, when Mayor de Blasio stated he will reassess the situation in all parks. Last weekend, many park goers were still congregating in groups at popular green spaces such as McCarren Park and Prospect Park. Community gardens, however, are already closed.

So, it's fine to exercise outside in my neighborhood?

Yes, New Yorkers can currently leave their homes for solitary exercise, but you should be overly cautious of the 6 feet distance rule if running on a sidewalk. What exactly is considered solitary recreational exercise? "It’s running and hiking. It’s not playing basketball with five other people," Cuomo stated. On that note, Mayor De Blasio just ordered the removal of basketball rims from 80 city parks over coronavirus concerns. When it came to social-distancing protocols, many were not taking proper precautions in pick-up games.

Are farmers markets still open?

Yes, most open-air farmers markets, including Union Square and Grand Army Plaza are still open, and deemed essential by Governor Cuomo. But in order to provide New Yorkers with fresh goods from regional farmers, fishers and bakers, they're ramping up their own safety measures starting this week to better comply with social distancing guidelines including: banning customers from handling produce (only gloved staff), suspended all sampling by vendors, barricading most food from direct public access with plexiglass, placing all vendor tents at least 10 feet away from one another, adding demarcations onsite to shoppers stay at least six feet apart when approaching booths to pay. Plus, before heading in, market-goers will likely have to wait in line (staggered properly) at the entrance for their turn to shop in order to avoid crowds.

Are liquor and wine stores?

Yes, they have been deemed essential. Call ahead to see if your local shop has switched over to pick-up/delivery only though (in an effort to limit folks from touching bottles).

What if something breaks inside my apartment? 

You won't be stranded! Plumbers and other skilled contractors (electricians, exterminators etc.) are considered essential workers. Hardware stores, home improvement stores like Home Depot, and convenience stores (bodegas) are all still open.

Can I still do my laundry at the laundromat?

Yep, don't worry there. Laundromats (even larger communal facilities) and cleaners are considered essential. 

Can I still find a new apartment? Who will help me move? 

Yes. New listings are still popping up. Under the latest social distancing measures, you won't be able to do in-person walkthroughs or lease signings. You'll likely be able to see showings virtually, however, via Youtube or other video platforms. From there, you can reach out to listing agents over the phone or email to lock something down. Many moving companies and major storage companies are continuing to operate, but reach out on a case-by-case basis.

What are other essential businesses open to know?

Pharmacies, health care providers, gas stations, banks, child-care providers, pet stores, auto repair shops, utility companies, warehouses and distributors, delivery services, animal care providers, transportation providers, construction companies and many kinds of manufacturers.

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