Things to do This Weekend in NYC
Bit by Bit NYC Emerges from the CoVid Pandemic Shock ...
... but it's Increasingly Looking Like It Will be a Slow Recovery
July 10, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC CoVid 19 Special Section / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
Weather. The temperature highs will be in the high 70’s Friday, rising to about 90 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday. There’s a 100% chance of inches of rain throughout the day Friday, with some rain - about an inch - in the late morning / early afternoon on Saturday, and then clear on Sunday. Humidity will be in the 90% plus range on Friday, dropping to 80% on Saturday and down to 65% on Sunday. There will be wind gusts of up to 20 - 26 mph on Friday, settling down to 5 - 10 mph on Saturday and Sunday.
We began to return to some measure of normalcy this week as NYC moved into Phase III of the reopening. Restaurants sprung back to life with sidewalk and curbside seating which seemed to fill up pretty well in the first week of opening. Rain will dampen that enthusiasm today and through mid afternoon tomorrow, but I expect seatings to resume later in the day Saturday.
Things to do in NYC This Weekend
The Mayor also announced the opening of 22 European piazza style dining streets in all five boroughs [scroll down to July 2nd post for a listing of them]. Some of these NYC ‘piazzas’ opened last weekend. I visited the one on Restaurant Row in Manhattan and it looked to be a success - see photo.
While things haven’t returned to normal, and likely won’t for some time, they are becoming more normal from week to week. And there’s more to do these days, than there has been for a long while, for those who want to get out and about.
New openings this past week include:
- CLICK here to the rest of our report on things to do in NYC including Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island & Brooklyn and slow economic comeback, layoffs and tale of two economies.
Things to do This Weekend in NYC
Bit by Bit NYC Emerges from the CoVid Pandemic Shock ...
... but it's Increasingly Looking Like It Will be a Slow Recovery
July 10, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC CoVid 19 Special Section / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC. Continued.
- The 911 Memorial waterfall which reopened last Sunday, July 5th to the public between the hours of 1 and 8 pm. The 911 Museum will remain closed.
- NYC public park golf courses opened this week as part of the Phase III reopening. So you can get out and shoot a few rounds at a reasonable price. LINKS.
- Tennis courts, basketball courts and dog walks also opened in NYC parks as part of the Phase III reopening.
- The Highline Park opened in Chelsea last weekend. It’s capacity limited and will be open from 12 noon to 8 pm.
- Many of the Long Island shopping malls reopen today, Friday July 10th with social distancing and other CoVid precautions in effect. The New Jersey shopping malls reopened a week and a half ago on Monday, June 29th.
Upcoming openings include:
- On Monday, July 13th twenty-two of the public libraries in all five boroughs will reopen. They include:
- Queens - Bayside Library, Bellerose Library, East Elmhurst Library, Kew Gardens Hills Library, Laurelton Library, Long Island City Library and Peninsula Library.
- Brooklyn - Bay Ridge Library, Bushwick Library, Kings Highway Library, Central Library, New Lots Library, Flatbush Library and the Red Hook Library.
- Manhattan - George Bruce Library, Epiphany Library and the Mid-Manhattan Library which has been renamed to Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL).
- Bronx - Belmont Library, Francis Martin Library and the Parkchester Library.
- Staten Island - Richmondtown Library and the Todt Hill-Westerleigh Library.
- NYS will see the reopening of 3,000 daycare centers beginning Monday, July 13th with various measures in place to mitigate or eliminate the possible spread of CoVid 19 at the centers.
- The New York Botanical Garden is expected to reopen on Monday, July 20th as a part of the Phase IV reopening of NYS. They will confirm following confirmation of the Phase IV date by the Governor.
- The Wildlife Conservation Society will reopen the New York Aquarium, Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo to members on Monday, July 20th and to the general public on Friday, July 24th.
- Movie theaters are tentatively planning to reopen on Saturday, August 15th.
- The Western & Southern Open [tennis] is expected to be played at the Billie Jean Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park beginning Saturday, August 15th and two weeks later by the U.S. Open - BUT these will not be open to the general public.
- The Met Museum is expected to reopen at the end of August.
- The Museum of Modern Art is expected to reopen sometime between now and the end of September. The last update on this I could find was in late May.
- As mentioned in a prior post, most of the major performing arts centers like Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall have cancelled their fall seasons.
Some of the activities that opened in prior Phases were:
- The beaches were opened for swimming.
- The piazza style dining mentioned above opened last weekend.
And major league sports will be returning beginning July 22 - 23 with the return of Major League Baseball - but it won’t be live - but rather on TV. The NBA has also resumed practice for the end of season play planned to begin at the end of July / early August. The NHL begins practice on July 13th with 16 of its 31 franchise teams playing eight best of five series to compete for the Stanley Cup. The season resumes August 1st. And the NFL has shortened preseason play to two games [down from four] in August and continues to maintain its September 7th season start date.
CoVid Reminders & Update
It seems the scientists are beginning to zero in on how the virus is transmitted. Originally it was thought to be spread via surfaces and air droplets, with no weight given to either method of transmission. It now seems that the air droplets may be the most prevalent method of transmission, which is why the mask wearing has been so heavily emphasized. The significance of the role played by asymptomatic CoVid carriers has fluctuated, but seems a real risk. The same seems true for person-to-surface-to-person transmission, which also still seems not to have been assessed with any strong level of certainty.
So my advice would be to continue practicing the three W’s: 1) Wash [your hands], 2) Wear [your mask] and 3) Watch [your distance]. When it comes to your health - better safe than dead.
Vaccine and therapies hype or reality? Talk is cheap. We’ll see when the science comes in. And then we’ll really see, a few weeks / months after they distribute these therapies to large segments of the population. We all wish for a workable vaccine and / or remedial therapies very soon. But as my father used to caution me, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”
The Mail In Vote - Sure Fire Recipe for Disaster in November?
So here we are - nearly three weeks after the June 23rd NYS primary election - and still no definitive results in a number of races because the mail in votes have not yet been tabulated. This is a disgrace and what seems a sure fire recipe for chaos come November. It’s worth noting that Politico did a study of the 2018 mail in votes which showed that 8% of them weren’t counted for various reasons. I voted by mail in the primary in 2018 and my mailed in ballot was thrown out because I forgot to sign the envelope.
Within the past three weeks the Supreme Court has shot down two separate efforts by Democrats to require the state governments in Texas and Alabama to provide all voters with mail in ballots.
In Washington State where mail in ballots are the method used, the system was implemented piece meal beginning in 1983 [and even before]. The method was authorized at the state level in 2005, allowing the counties to decide how best to manage the elections. And in 2011 it was mandated state wide. The Washington [state] Secretary of State said there isn’t nearly enough time nor budget money for states considering the change to properly implement it by the November 2020 election.
In the long haul, however, it does seem to have significant advantages as a pandemic wouldn’t affect voting, it has a solid paper trail, polls and poll workers become a thing of the past - but it requires skilled personnel and processing equipment to properly collect and tabulate the ballots. It would seem that NYS didn’t tend to those ‘details’ and thus - here we are nearly three weeks after voting - without knowing definitively who won and who lost most of the contests on the ballot.
Retail Bankruptcies & Layoffs & Fairway Stores Closings / Sale
The CoVid pandemic has been something of a bloodbath for traditional retailers. This month Bed Bath and Beyond announced that it’s shuttering about 20% of its 950 stores. And this past week on Wednesday, July 8, Brooks Brothers which was founded in 1818 announced it will be closing about 50 of its 250 stores in North America [includes Canada and Mexico] close three factories - one of which is located in Queens. This follows our previous report, that on June 25th Macy’s announced staff reductions of 3900 people to save about $630 million. And in May retailers - JC Penney, Nieman Marcus, J. Crew and Pier 1 - all declared bankruptcy.
And at the hyper local level [even more than Macy’s] Fairway had announced on June 26th that it was closing three stores in / near NYC including its Red Hook Brooklyn store [previously reported], its store at 125th Street in Harlem store, and its Plainview Long Island store as well as its NYC corporate headquarters and distribution center affecting as many as 2,412 employees. The brand and five of its NYC stores were purchased by the operator of Shop Rite: Village Super Market.
Tale of Two Economies - Tech Laden NASDAQ & Dow(n) Jones ‘Industrials’
Those adept at online sales, however, have been faring far better. Amazon is up about 66% from the beginning of the pandemic, while Best Buy is trading at about the same as it was before the pandemic. And Apple Computer is up about 20% versus its pre-pandemic level.
The stock market indices have followed suit. Australian born billionaire elitest Rupert Murdoch’s Dow Jones Industrial Average is down about 14% from the pre-pandemic level, while the NASDAQ is up about 9% versus its pre-pandemic level. That’s 25% difference in returns between the aging old Dow[ager] and the Nasdaq.
More Layoffs in the Works - The Airlines & Transportation
A July 6th report on CNBC noted that air travel in early July [including the 4th holiday weekend] was up 90% vs June - but that is still down 70% vs year ago. As such United Airlines announced plans to layoff 36,000 employees by October 1st, which is about 45% of its frontline workforce. American Airlines announced plans to layoff as much as 30% [39,000] of its 130,000 workforce. Delta, one of the big three, is also working on staff reductions, but I couldn’t find anything definitive. Their staff was reported to be about 91,000. Airline demand is expected to be down about 75% vs year ago in the third quarter 2020 and - according to one report - not expected to recover until 2023.
This affects the NYC economy as we are the destination of at least three major airports [LaGuardia, JFK and Newark], and many people who live here, work in the airline transportation industry - not to mention the airports which service airline travel.
It seems the Donald & Mitch McConnell have pissed away $25 billion of America’s children’s money [loans taken out on their backs], which they gave to the airline industry in what seemed an effort to save their re-election bids, more than having anything to do with anything else. A July 2, 2020 Motley Fool report noted that just under a third of the $25 billion is expected to be paid back. In contrast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel negotiated for the government to take an equity stake in the German airline Lufthansa, in exchange for the bailout.
Amtrak is planning to cut its workforce by 20% or 3,700 employees out of its 18,000 employees. Ridership at the height of the pandemic was down about 95% and it’s not expected to come back soon, as they estimate they will have about 50% of traffic [they had in 2019] in the coming fiscal year which begins October 1, 2020.
More Layoffs in the Works - Restaurants & Hotels
National chain restaurants are also closing enmasse. Subway, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Boston Market, Applebee’s and TGI Fridays, Perkins, Cosi, Friendlys, Taco Bell and Benihani are all planning multiple closings. Most of these chains have outlets in NYC or surrounding NYS suburbs, but that said, it’s difficult to assess the potential impact in NYC and NYS.
A June 23, 2020 Real Deal report noted that the American Hotel and Lodging Association said that at the end of March 2020 some 200,000 of the half million people working in the NYS hotel industry were [expected to be] losing their jobs. Nationally the comparable figure was four million. They also said a CBRE report noted that April hotel employment was at 28% of pre-pandemic levels, while in June it had risen to 40%. They also said that hotels were filing notice of more layoffs.
The reason, of course, is that the resumption of the hotel business to pre-pandemic levels isn’t likely anytime soon. In recent years NYC has generally welcomed over 60 million visitors annually. And as I walk the streets, I can see that even many NYC natives who fled the pandemic for their second homes, have not yet returned to the city - let alone tourists. As mentioned in a prior report [June 29, 2020] the European Union kept the pandemic restrictions on U.S. travelers because of how poorly we’re faring in managing the spread of CoVid at the NATIONAL LEVEL.
More Layoffs in the Works - Banks, Financial Services & Real Estate
The next shoe to drop is in the financial services sector as Wells Fargo is eyeing layoffs, as is Deutche Bank and HSBC. Since the pandemic slowdown began, many borrowers are using more of their credit lines, business activity has slowed for many and won’t likely bounce back soon, and the real estate sector / landowners are sitting on tons of unpaid rent.
So this could be the beginning of a financial services adjustment, as bricks and mortar retail banking begins to go the way of a lot of other bricks and mortar businesses. All seeming to advance a worsening outlook for commercial real estate [restaurants / hotels / retailers / retail banks / telecommuting office workers and so on].
More Layoffs in the Works - Municipal and State Government?
And lastly, there are government related layoffs which could occur at the municipal and state levels given the billions of dollars in tax revenue shortfall. Mayor de Blasio has managed to find ways to manage through the estimated $9 billion revenue shortfall this year, including using his rainy day fund [now people may see that he was wise to do so], but we’re not out of the woods yet, as up to 22,000 in NYC municipal employee layoffs may be needed by October 1st.
Meanwhile NYS faces a $10 - $15 billion shortfall. Governor Cuomo has already begun withholding state funds from counties and municipalities in order to make up the shortfall. And the state also employs 80,000 people, for whom the Governor froze pay raises in anticipation of the financial crunch. But there's likely more to come on this front.
Reminder - Taxes Due July 15th
The time has run out for those who have not yet filed their taxes. On Wednesday, July 15th taxes are due.
Have a relaxing weekend. Stay warm? And stay dry : )