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Mayor: NYC poised to open zoos, play ball under reopen plan

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City is on track to take the next step in reopening next week, allowing movie and TV crews to film, zoos to welcome reduced crowds, and professional sports teams play to empty seats, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.

But malls, museums and restaurant dining rooms would stay shuttered in the nation’s biggest city.

While the state hasn’t yet given formal approval, de Blasio said the city is set to begin a limited version of the fourth phase of the statewide reopening process starting Monday.

“Monday, Phase 4 — what a striking reality,” the Democratic mayor said.

New York City, which has seen the bulk of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, began reopening June 8, after the rest of the state.

The rest of the state is already in Phase 4, which typically permits opening malls and certain arts and entertainment centers. But Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week that even if the city is approved to enter Phase 4, it can’t have “any additional indoor activity” in places like malls and museums because of coronavirus transmission risks.

New York City also has been barred from opening up indoor dining, unlike the rest of the state.

In the city’s scaled-down Phase 4, botanical gardens and zoos can reopen at 33% capacity, production of movies and TV shows can proceed and professional sports such as baseball can be played without fans in the stands, de Blasio said.

Major League Baseball plans to start a shortened season this coming Thursday, with the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees, and the Los Angeles Dodgers welcoming the rival San Francisco Giants. The rest of the league joins the fray July 24.

Daily statewide statistics released Friday show New York with 776 newly confirmed cases, representing 1% of all tests. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday dropped to 765 and 10 people died, according to state figures. More than 25,000 people have died statewide since the outbreak.