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What New York City’s Reopened Stores, Restaurants and Hotels Means for Travelers

NYC, hardest hit epidemic center in the US is enjoying a low-case, high hopes moment…but with cautious optimism

The streets are filling with citizens reawakening to being outside again, albeit six feet away from each other and in masks.

New York City’s Covid-19 numbers sank low enough for Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andew Cuomo to declare “Phase 2” for June 22. Conversely, the Tri-State area has initiated a mandatory two-week quarantine for travelers coming from nine states experiencing high Covid-19: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.

Restaurants are allowing patrons to dine al fresco but only al fresco. Tables and chairs are being set up in the most unlikely places: outside pizza joints and coffee shops as well as traditional restaurants. Some closed streets are turning into outdoor dining areas. Seating is first come first served and hard to get. New Yorkers, who traditional subsist on dining out are hungry to get back in the game and are filling seats like it is a game of musical chairs.

The city’s underground lifeline, the New York Subway system is back to regular service, although travelers coming to and from airports on the city’s Air Train service should know that the trains are still closed for cleaning from 1 am in the morning to 5 am in the morning. For early flights, cabs or Ubers are still the only way to get to LaGuardia and JFK.

Hotels in the city are now allowed to welcome regular guests, although some properties remain closed, others are making decisions about when and or if to open and some, like the Four Seasons on 57th Street are still keeping their rooms for First Responders only.

Business Traveler USA contacted the Four Seasons NY’s front desk operator who said, “There’s no estimation of when the hotel will be open to regular guests.”

At NYC’s Hilton Hotels, staggered openings are happening.

“As business demand increased in New York City we are committed to fully restoring operations at all of our properties throughout the city,” a Hilton spokesperson told Business Traveler.

“As New York City enters phase 2, a number of our properties are open and eager to welcome guests as travel resumes – from Millennium Hilton New York Downtown and Millennium One UN Plaza, to Hilton Brooklyn and Hilton Garden Inn Long Island City New York in the outer boroughs.”

Hilton’s iconic NYC property, the Conrad downtown with its outdoor rooftop restaurant Loopy Doopy is planned for a July reopen although the hotel’s spokesperson said there was no information yet on how or if the rooftop venue would open for social distancing dining.

Shopping is also opening in NY.

Two weeks ago, Saks was guarded by armed guards and barbed wire. It opened this week to changed hours, mask requirements and social distancing.  John Antonini, Senior Vice President, said in a statement that he was “thrilled to be able to welcome you back to our spectacular flagship store,” pointing to new cleaning protocols and alternative shopping via video and curbside pickup for those not yet ready for the in-store experience.

“A lot has changed, but we’re here for you…I look forward to seeing you all back at the store (six feet apart, of course!),” he said.