NEW YORK—With New York City poised to reopen after a more than two-month shutdown over the CCP virus, officials on Sunday lifted a curfew that was in place amid protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody. But they also urged that demonstrators be tested for COVID-19.
“Get a test. Get a test,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told people who have been participating in rallies and marches in memory of Floyd.
He said the state would open 15 testing sites dedicated to protesters so they can get results quickly.
“I would act as if you were exposed, and I would tell people you are interacting with, assume I am positive for the virus,” Cuomo added.
The call is similar to those made in Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta following massive demonstrations, with free testing for protesters.
New York has been the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, with black communities hit especially hard.
The Rev. Brandon Watts of Epiphany Church in Brooklyn, was mindful of the pandemic while organizing a “Pray & Protest” march with several other churches. He mandated that protesters wear masks, and he came with boxes of them. He also asked the group to try to maintain social distancing but acknowledged “it’s kind of hard in a protest.”
Attendees also were offered free tests of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, at one church.
“COVID-19 hit the inner city harder than anybody else,” Watts said. “And so we have to be very careful. We’re the only ones in a pandemic within a pandemic.”
New York City prepared to enter its first phase of reopening after virus shutdowns. Up to 400,000 people are expected to head back to the workplace Monday, with many using a subway system that most New Yorkers have avoided since March because of crowding.
Mayor Bill de Blasio lifted the city’s 8 p.m. curfew imposed for the Floyd protests. The police pulled back on enforcing the curfew Saturday as thousands turned out.
“Last night was the best by far,” de Blasio said. “We had the biggest number of protesters, the fewest arrests, the fewest problems and that convinced me it was time for the curfew to go away. I have no intention of bringing it back.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also lifted the city’s curfew, reopened downtown train stations and allowed full bus service to resume following days of largely calm protests.
Cities imposed curfews amid last week’s arson, assaults, and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. Recent U.S. protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, as were rallies held around the globe.
Floyd’s body arrived in Texas for a third and final memorial service, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. A viewing is planned for Monday in Houston, followed by a service and burial Tuesday in suburban Pearland.
The 46-year-old out-of-work bouncer died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped responding. His death has drawn new attention to the treatment of African Americans by police.
In Washington, D.C., National Guard troops from South Carolina were seen checking out of their hotel Sunday shortly before President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that he was giving the order to withdraw them from the nation’s capital.
The D.C. mayor had called on Trump last week to withdraw outside forces amid days of largely peaceful rallies after he ordered guard troops to “dominate the streets.”
At the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, protesters posed with the street sign and the yellow block lettering painted on the pavement by the city. As ice cream truck jingles mixed with protest chats, the district’s Metropolitan Police Department patrolled in place of federal law enforcement officers and National Guard troops.
On Saturday, a small group of demonstrators toppled a statue of a Confederate general in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has pledged to remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee after days of Floyd protests.
By Jake Seiner and Kimberlee Kruesi
The Epoch Times contributed to this report.