Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s zoned shutdown approach to curb the spread of COVID-19 in hotspots in Brooklyn and Queens appears to be working. On Friday, Cuomo reduced the number of neighborhoods in Brooklyn that were previously in the red zone — where restaurants are restricted to just takeout and delivery — to parts of Midwood and Gravesend, and small slivers of Kensington and Sheepshead Bay.
Most notably Borough Park — which has previously been a focus area for the state due to the high positivity rate there— appears to have almost entirely moved out of the red zone into the yellow zone, where both indoor and outdoor dining are allowed, albeit with a limit of four people per table, along with all the other indoor and outdoor restrictions applied to restaurants elsewhere in the city.
In addition, South Brooklyn neighborhoods that were previously in the yellow zone, including parts of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge, have now transitioned out of that zone, meaning they can resume all dining services that are allowed in other parts of the city. Far Rockaway, in Queens, which was also previously in a yellow zone, has been completely phased out of it, though other affected parts of Queens — Kew Gardens and Forest Hills — still remain in the yellow zone, according to the latest update from the governor.
The decision to reduce the red zone boundaries was prompted by the fact that the COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped there from 5.9 percent in early October to 3.1 percent. Overall the state’s positivity rate is at 1.99 percent, and without the cluster zones, it sits at 1.84 percent according to state data.
In New York City, while the daily and seven-day weekly rolling average rates still remain below two percent — at 1.43 and 1.81 percent as of Thursday — the seven-day rolling average of cases climbed to 633 cases yesterday, above the 550 threshold set by the city. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday at a press conference that he wants that number to come down, but New York as a whole has still managed to reduce the spread of the virus, particularly compared to other parts of the country, which are seeing a massive spike.
Parts of France and Germany have closed restaurants because of surging cases there, but in order for any new restrictions to be implemented in NYC, there would have to be a significant increase in other metrics like the weekly positivity rate and the number of hospitalizations, which have both remained below the thresholds set by the city.