New York City is canceling all large events through September as part of measures to prioritize city blocks for public use, but will exempt demonstrations and religious events, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on July 9.
De Blasio’s office said in a statement that as the city has begun its reopening process, canceling large events such as street fairs, outdoor concerts, parades, and others through September is vital in keeping open spaces accessible to the public.
“While it pains me to call off some of the city’s beloved events, our focus now must be the prioritization of city space for public use and the continuation of social distancing,” the statement said.
Large outdoor gatherings have been officially banned in New York since the spring. All public events scheduled last month in the city were canceled, with the decision affecting all non-essential permitted events including parades, concerts, rallies, and other large gatherings.
— City of New York (@nycgov) July 9, 2020
The mayor said however that the city’s ban will exempt “demonstrations, religious events, and press conferences.” He suggested that protests against police brutality, which have swept across the United States since the death of Black American George Floyd on May 25, will be exempt from the measures.
“Look this is always an area of real sensitivity here,” de Blasio said in a CNN appearance, in response to a question about whether protests would be allowed. “You’re talking about health, we would always say, ‘Hey folks stay home if you can.’ But we understand this moment in history, people are talking about the need for historic change.”
“This is a historic moment of change,” he continued. “We have to respect that, but also say to people the kinds of gatherings we’re used to—the parades, the fairs—we just can’t have that while we’re focusing on health right now.”
De Blasio said New York City will deny permits for events in parks that could “unreasonably diminish” public use, street fairs, events that stretch further than one block, or those that require speakers. Any event in a location that interferes with the Open Streets or Open Restaurants program will also be denied permits. He said the city will refund or defer fees paid in connection with denied permits.
Meanwhile, the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Central Park Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo, and the Queens Zoo are set to reopen on July 24. The facilities have been closed since mid-March as part of lockdown measures to stem transmission of the CCP virus.
The number of hospitalizations has declined overall since spiking in mid-April, but 851 individuals with COVID-19 were hospitalized Wednesday. That’s up from 817 Sunday, according to the Democrat’s office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.