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Former COVID hotspot New Rochelle reopens more businesses

As parts of the country experience rises in COVID-19 cases, some early hotspots continue to see decreases in the daily number of new virus infections. New York City has started the first phase of reopening, allowing an estimated 400,000 workers to return to their jobs. And as Christopher Booker reports, areas outside the city that were also hit hard by the pandemic are even further along.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    As other parts of the country see rises in COVID-19 cases, some early hotspots like New York City continue to see decreases in the daily number of new virus infections.

    New York City has now started the first phase of reopening – allowing an estimated 400,000 people back to work in industries like construction and manufacturing.

    But as Christopher Booker reports, areas outside the city that were also hit hard by the pandemic, are even further along.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Nick Triscari is happy to welcome customers to his brand new outdoor space at the Wooden Spoon, the restaurant he owns in downtown New Rochelle, even though he's still putting the finishing touches on the space. The sun umbrellas aren't even scheduled to arrive until Monday.

  • Nick Trsicari:

    For the last hundred something days, we've been, you know, working out of our comfort zone, really, you know, just not having customers in here transitioning into a takeout restaurant, which we weren't originally opened to be, but, ah it feels great to actually have customers in your garden.

  • Christopher Booker:

    As of this past Tuesday, outdoor dining in this region just north of New York City is now allowed as part of phase 2 of its reopening. Restaurants are required to space tables 6 feet apart and workers must wear masks. Triscari – who also works full time as a New Rochelle firefighter – came down with COVID-19 himself in April. He says he's taking every precaution he can for his customers and his family.

  • Nick Triscari:

    My mother works out front. My wife helps out here. The last thing I want is any of them to get sick. So so we're taking it serious.

  • Christopher Booker:

    We were here nearly 3-months ago after New York opened its very first drive thru testing facility. New Rochelle was one of the early epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic and the testing facility is still open. But for some businesses, things look different than they did during that mid-march weekend.

  • Christopher Booker:

    At EM Barbers, Vinny Aiezza is cutting hair again. He reopened this past Tuesday and allows one client into the shop at a time, scheduled in advance.

  • Christopher Booker:

    How busy have you been since Tuesday?

  • Vinny Aiezza:

    I've been pretty much booked since open to close

  • Christopher Booker:

    Aiezza applied for the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but was denied – He says he was able to make ends meet, in part, by collecting unemployment benefits.

  • Vinny Aiezza:

    I'd rather just get back to work, I don't want to collect nothing.

  • Christopher Booker:

    A few doors down, workers at the North End Tavern are putting out tables and chairs, measured exactly 6 feet apart for social distancing. Jerry Dejesus is one of the owners and the executive chef.

  • Jerry Dejesus:

    You know, we've been living off the "to-gos" and deliveries and curbside pick up and Uber Eats and that just wasn't cutting it to be honest with you. So it's kind of nice to have tables and have people come in and actually eat.

  • Christopher Booker:

    These two businesses are just down the road from the Young Israel Synagogue, which emerged as a hotspot in early March. This led to local lockdown with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo mandating a one-mile containment zone, which included this stretch on North Avenue. Just over a week later, on March 22nd, the one mile zone became irrelevant as the entire state went on pause — with all non-essential retailers and businesses ordered to close.

    Now, nearly three months later, this region is on track to enter the next phase of reopening in the coming weeks. New COVID-19 infections in this county have fallen by nearly 95 percent from a peak in late March. That means there could be indoor dining, at least at 50 percent of capacity, by July.

    Wooden Spoon owner Nick Triscari says whether people are sitting outside or inside – he's just happy to have people coming to his restaurant again.

  • Nick Triscari:

    Not to be dramatic here, but , you know, the fact that we're open now, whereas I thought that really we weren't gonna have customers in here till September. You know what? It's a borrowed time. I know it's probably not an appropriate term, but, you know, successful is just being open and having customers come in here

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