NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With many people working from home and large events being canceled due to the coronavirus, the streets and large institutions of New York City look a bit different Thursday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency, and the state imposed a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people.
In a day when the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments, the NHL hockey season and the planned start to the MLB baseball season all fell victim to coronavirus concerns, even recreational sports were hit when Chelsea Piers announced it would be closed until at least March 31.
“You want to come back for some corned beef and cabbage? I got tons of it that I won’t be using,” he joked.
Cardinal Dolan says though the parade is off for now, there will still be a much smaller, less elaborate mass that day. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade dates back to 1762 in New York City. This is the first time it has been postponed in its history.
As many as two million revelers typically line up for the beloved tradition. But this year, the coronavirus has convinced parade organizers it’s too big of a risk right now.
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“Like everybody else I’m disappointed but I sure support the decision. It wasn’t mine to make,” Dolan said.
While it was a fairly mild winter day Thursday in New York City, and while there were definitely people out and about, normally we’d expect to see a lot more foot traffic on the sidewalks, reported CBS2’s Alice Gainer.
In fact, in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, tourists had Fifth Avenue nearly to themselves, Gainer reported. That’s not the only spot.
“You expect as a tourist when you go somewhere that there are long queues, but you can go to observation decks and you can just walk through it,” a tourist from Belgium named Bart Collet told Gainer.
Then there’s mass transit.
“We went to the subway and there were hardly any people there,” Collet said.
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At Penn Station, a few people were wearing masks.
“Eerie. It was quiet. It was empty. There were a couple of people coughing, and other people were, like, pull out their hand sanitizer and looking at them like oh I don’t know,” said Eliza Saunders of Harlem.
“Any hesitation about coming here today?” Gainer asked.
“Not really. No. You know, be careful don’t be dumb,” said Ray Butkus of Red Bank, N.J.
Some fans were confused. First they could go, then last night a restricted attendance policy was announced.
“We were hoping it wouldn’t be canceled,” said a fan.
But halfway through the noon game, the tournament was canceled.
The approach many are taking through this pandemic?
“Life goes on,” one person said.
With more and more large events here in New York City and around the country being canceled, life as we know it – for tourists and New Yorkers – will be quite different for the time being.
The NCAA canceled March Madness. The NBA and NHL also suspended its season until further notice. The Metropolitan Opera has canceled all performances through the end of March. So has Carnegie Hall. The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced a temporary closure, saying they’ll make a further assessment next week.
The Broadway League announced all shows were suspended through April 12.
“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League. “Broadway has the power to inspire, enrich and entertain, and together we are committed to making that vital spirit a reality. Once our stages are lit again, we will welcome fans back with open arms so that they can continue to experience the joy, heart, and goodwill that our shows so passionately express every night.”
The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library announced in a joint statement they are suspending all public programs and scheduled events until Tuesday, March 31. Though events at the libraries are canceled, the libraries, themselves, remain open.
“The decision to cancel library programs was not taken lightly, as programs such as story times, technology training classes, and English language classes are lifelines for so many. But considering the current situation, and the need to limit large crowds, this was the most responsible path forward to support the health and well-being of our communities,” library officials said in a statement.
De Blasio said the city is going to be dealing with this for the next six months.