New York mayor warns of 'a couple of tough weeks ahead'

New York mayor warns of 'a couple of tough weeks ahead'
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New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThree arrested for allegedly assaulting NYC hostess who asked for COVID-19 vaccine proof Letitia James holding private talks on running for New York governor: report Ocasio-Cortez defends attendance of Met Gala amid GOP uproar MORE (D) on Wednesday said residents will face “a couple tough weeks ahead” as he officially announced the closure of nonessential businesses for “at least 14 days” starting Thursday in areas of the city experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

"We have a couple of tough weeks ahead," de Blasio said at a press conference Wednesday morning. “Two, three, four weeks that are going to be really tough in the city as we fight back against a new threat.”

The mayor, who first announced he was planning the closures on Sunday, added that New Yorkers “all have to work together.” 

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“This city was the epicenter of this crisis in the United States of America,” de Blasio continued. 

“We fought back together. People stood shoulder to shoulder. Think about our health care heroes, think about our first responders," he said. "They served everyone, they came from every part of this city. Everyone worked together to overcome this.”

“Now, we’re going into a tough stretch with a new challenge,” the mayor explained. “It is a challenge we can and will overcome. But I guarantee you, there will be people who try to divide us in this moment of challenge. There will be people who try to create disunity when in fact we need unity. Don’t let them do it.”

The mayor’s plea continued with a call for “all communities to come together and say, ‘this is all of us. One New York City fighting this fight together for the good of all.’ Let’s support each other, let’s work with each other, let’s listen to each other, and overcome this challenge.”

According to New York’s Fox affiliate WNYW, the new order will result in closures and restrictions in areas of Brooklyn and Queens designated as “red zones,” as well as less strict orders in the communities labeled “orange zones.” 

At the news conference, de Blasio also announced that fines for mass gatherings in the affected areas will be increased to $15,000, and fines for not social distancing or refusing to wear a mask at $1,000.

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In the red zones, schools will close all in-person learning, essential businesses will stay open, restaurants can only offer takeout options and houses of worship can only have 10 people inside at a time for services.

In orange zones, schools will only operate remotely, restaurants can only offer outdoor seating and businesses considered high-risk will be forced to close. The measures for orange zones also put a 25-person limit on places of worship. 

The mayor has already received harsh criticism for some for the new restrictions, with violent protests erupting late Tuesday night. The New York Times reported Wednesday that protesters set fires in Hasidic Jewish communities in a reaction to the proposed measures Tuesday night. 

Video of the demonstrations show several Hasidic men, most of whom are not wearing masks, taking to the streets at 13th Avenue in the Borough Park neighborhood, according to the Times. 

On Wednesday, the New York City health department reported more than 500 new COVID-19 cases, bringing it to a total of 242,902 reported infections in the city since the pandemic first hit.