Following another evening of protests against police brutality and hundreds of arrests, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that New York City’s curfew would continue all week with an earlier start time of 8 p.m., lasting until 5 a.m.
The mayor and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the curfew Monday afternoon, a measure they said in response to “violence and property damage.” They also doubled police presence, from 4,000 to 8,000. Many businesses, primarily in lower Manhattan, sustained broken windows and looting on Sunday night, which de Blasio called the turning point to implement a curfew.
“We’re going to use the curfew as a new tool,” the mayor said at a Tuesday press conference. “We’re going to bring in every single police officer where needed.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that police arrested close to 700 people for crimes related to looting. Shea and de Blasio continued to allege that people are using the largely peaceful protests “as a cover” to commit crimes.
Nationwide, major U.S cities have been implementing nightly curfews in response to unrest, and President Donald Trump called for military presence. The National Guard is on standby for New York, but De Blasio reiterated on Tuesday that he didn’t think their presence was necessary.
Already, the emergency curfew has sparked backlash. Experts say that the effectiveness of the policy, and the accompanying increased police presence, is unclear, as they tend to be enforced unevenly and can exacerbate tensions between communities of color and police.
There’s also been some confusion due to the suddenness of the curfew’s enforcement. Initial announcements noted that certain people would be allowed to be outside, including workers at “essential retail” like groceries, but did not say whether staffers or delivery people working for restaurants would be permitted. The governor’s office later confirmed to Eater that restaurant workers would be exempt.
In cities like San Francisco, some restaurants have started closing earlier or nixing dinner service due to the nightly curfew, as owners fear the arrest of their staff, while LA’s uneven rollout led to lots chaos and confusion for many in the restaurant world, who have already been drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In New York, the MTA will still be running after curfew for essential workers, besides during the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. nightly cleaning. But CitiBike — which has previously offered free 30-day memberships to essential workers as biking increases as a safer alternative to the subway during the pandemic — will be closed after curfew for now.