Given the many unknowns surrounding a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as skepticism that certain vaccine trials could be politically motivated, Governor Cuomo announced last month that the state would put together a Clinical Advisory Task Force to advise New Yorkers on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. In addition, over the weekend, the NYS Department of Health released a draft COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Program “that serves as an initial framework for ensuring the safe and effective distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in New York.” According to the preliminary plan, the vaccine would be distributed in five phases, with high-risk populations and essential workers prioritized.
Image: Michael Kowalczyk via Flickr.
The ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect on Monday, more than seven months after enforcement was set to begin. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statewide ban on plastic bags was approved by state lawmakers last year with plans to begin enforcement on March 1, 2020. But a lawsuit from the Bodega and Small Business Association and a delay in a court decision on the lawsuit because of the coronavirus pandemic pushed enforcement of the new law back multiple times until a state judge ruled in August that the ban can begin on October 19. Starting Monday, grocery and retail stores that collect state taxes from customers will no longer be permitted to use plastic bags to contain purchases at checkout. Ahead, learn more about the Bag Waste Reduction Law, the exceptions to the law, and alternatives to single-use plastic.
The New York City Council on Thursday voted to make outdoor dining permanent and year-round and lifted the ban on portable propane heaters. The legislation approved by the Council extends the city’s current Open Restaurants program, in which more than 10,500 restaurants have enrolled since June, until September 30, 2021, and requires it to be replaced with a permanent program. Under the program, restaurants will also be able to use portable propane heaters, which were previously banned.
Photo credit: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit on Flickr
Nearly three miles of dedicated bus lanes equipped with transit signal priority technology and enforcement cameras opened in the South Bronx last week, part of the city’s plan to speed up the system’s notoriously slow travel times. The new lanes run along East 149th Street between Southern Boulevard and River Avenue and are used by four heavily-used bus routes, the Bx2, Bx4, Bx17, and the Bx19. The bus improvement project is the fourth to be completed since Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his Better Buses Restart plan in June amid the city’s coronavirus pandemic recovery.
Credit: Thomas Heatherwick Studio
The past seven months fighting the coronavirus in New York City have laid bare the inequalities that exist in housing, infrastructure, open space access, and wellness. How can the largest city in the United States sustainably recover after COVID-19 while prioritizing the health of all of its residents? Industry leaders will explore this topic and the future of the city during a two-day virtual summit this month hosted by 92nd Street Y and Hundred Stories. The fourth annual “City of Tomorrow: Building a Better Future” summit will take place virtually on October 13 and October 14, with all talks free for the public to view.
Map of Brooklyn’s Covid-19 cluster; courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office
In an effort to contain new clusters of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday ordered non-essential businesses to close and houses of worship to restrict capacity in parts of Brooklyn and Queens and suburbs of New York City. The new initiative divides the clusters into three categories depending on the rate of transmission, with red, orange, and yellow zones determining the level of restrictions in place. The new rules will be in effect for a minimum of 14 days starting on Thursday. To clear up confusion over the cluster zones, the city released a searchable “Find Your Zone” map that allows New Yorkers to enter their address to find what zone they live, work, and go to school in.
The plan to rezone two affluent Manhattan neighborhoods will enter the public land use review process, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday. The proposed rezoning of Soho and Noho includes replacing 1970s-era zoning rules and incentivizing the creation of about 800 permanently affordable homes, part of an effort to bring affordable housing to all New York City neighborhoods, even upscale ones.
After fully reopening last week, some schools in NYC will have to close again. Photo credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr
Schools in nine New York City ZIP codes where COVID-19 cases have grown rapidly will temporarily close starting Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced on Sunday plans to shut down schools in these neighborhoods, which includes about 200 private schools and 100 public schools. While de Blasio’s original proposal would also shutter non-essential businesses in these hot spots and high-risk activities in an additional dozen ZIP codes that are seeing an increase in cases, Cuomo on Monday said only schools will be closed as of now, adding that the state will review the data before taking further action. The governor said he would not “recommend any NYC family send their child to a school” in those areas.
Photo of Peter McManus Cafe © James and Karla Murray
Like thousands of small businesses, one of New York City’s oldest family-run establishments is struggling to survive because of the coronavirus pandemic. Irish bar Peter McManus Cafe, located at 152 Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, has been serving pints of Guinness and their famous burgers since 1936. While the McManus family, who has continuously owned the bar for four generations, has seen their fair share of challenges in its 84 years, COVID-19 has made it increasingly difficult to stay in business.
If you’re reading this post, you probably don’t need a reminder to get out there and vote for the presidential election on November 3. But you might have some questions about how things are working this year, with the pandemic coming into play. Luckily for New York City residents, voting is easy and safe, and we’ve compiled a guide with everything you need to know about deadlines, voting by mail, and voting in person.