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Some New York schools reopen but indoor dining under threat

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Children arrive for class on the first day of school reopening on December 7, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City./AFP
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Dec 08, 2020 - 06:13 AM

NEW YORK — New York City reopened its public elementary schools on Monday but officials warned that indoor dining in restaurants could be halted within days if coronavirus hospitalizations fail to slow.

America’s largest city, which was ravaged by the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, closed all public schools on November 19 after the city-wide rate of positive coronavirus tests hit three percent.

Some 850 schools educating New York’s youngest children reopened their doors Monday after Mayor Bill de Blasio revised his criteria for shutdown due to low infection rates in classrooms.

The return to in-person learning for five to ten year olds comes despite the positivity rate in the city rising to around five percent.

Middle schools, high schools and public colleges remain closed and will offer virtual classes only until at least January.

New York has one of the lowest infection rates in the US but a significant rise in cases, coupled with an increase in hospital admissions, has worried authorities.

State Governor Andrew Cuomo warned Monday that restaurants will have to stop indoor dining if hospitalization rates don’t stabilize within five days.

Restaurants are presently allowed to seat customers inside at 25 percent capacity.

Cuomo said he expected hospitalizations to increase further because of last month’s Thanksgiving holiday and in the run-up to Christmas and Hanukkah.

America’s leading epidemiologist Anthony Fauci, appearing alongside Cuomo, warned that families gathering for the holiday period could cause cases to reach new heights next month.

“Without substantial mitigation, the middle of January can be a really dark time for us,” Fauci said.

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