As New York City prepared to reopen after a more than two-month coronavirus shutdown, officials on Sunday lifted a curfew that was put in place amid protests of police brutality and racial injustice. But they also urged that demonstrators be tested for COVID-19.
“Get a test. Get a test,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged people who have been participating in rallies and marches in memory of George Floyd.
He said the state planned to open 15 testing sites dedicated to protesters so they can get results quickly.
“I would act as if you were exposed, and I would tell people you are interacting with, assume I am positive for the virus,” Cuomo added.
The call is similar to what officials in Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta have made following massive demonstrations, with free testing set up for protesters who may have been exposed to the virus.
“There is a pandemic going on out there. People are aware of that. I don’t think any of us have forgotten that’s happening,” Jennifer Cota, who was protesting in a Seattle suburb, told KCPQ-TV. “It’s still a risk a lot of people are willing to take.”
Demonstrations across the country Saturday were perhaps the largest one-day mobilization since Floyd died May 25 at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The turnout continued around the globe Sunday even as US cities lifted curfews imposed amid last week’s spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. Recent days of US protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful.
New York City prepared to enter its first phase of reopening after shutdowns due to the pandemic. Between 200,000 and 400,000 people are expected to head back to the workplace Monday, with many using a subway system that most New Yorkers have avoided since March because of crowded conditions.
On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio lifted the city’s 8 p.m. curfew put in place for the Floyd protests.
“Last night was the best by far,” de Blasio told reporters. “We had the biggest number of protesters, the fewest arrests, the fewest problems and that convinced me it was time for the curfew to go away. I have no intention of bringing it back.”
He maintained, however, that the city was still debating whether to enforce street closures later in the day. He also said he was “frustrated” by the large number of police officers who were not wearing face masks, describing it as painful to people who may perceive law enforcement was “flouting” social distancing rules.