'A big test': Hard-hit New York City begins reopening

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A commuters walks on a nearly empty subway platform in New York, Monday, June 8, 2020. After three months of a coronavirus crisis followed by protests and unrest, New York City is trying to turn a page when a limited range of industries reopen Monday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK – After three gloomy months and 21,000 deaths that made it the nation's most lethal hot spot, New York City slowly began reopening Monday in the biggest test yet of Americans' ability to keep the coronavirus in check.

Stores previously deemed nonessential were cleared to reopen for delivery and curbside pickup, though customers cannot yet browse inside. Construction, manufacturing and wholesalers also received the go-ahead to resume work.

“So far, so good,” construction management company owner Frank Sciame said as job sites started humming again, with new precautions such as health screening questionnaires and lower limits on the number of workers allowed in construction hoists. “Let’s hope it continues.”

“New York,” he said, “will always come back.”

Some major store chains took it slow: Macy's declined to give a date for starting curbside pickup at its flagship store, where smash-and-grab thieves hit amid last week’s protests over George Floyd’s death. Saks Fifth Avenue, which girded itself with razor wire last week, and Tiffany’s may launch pickup service later this week.

Owners of smaller shops were eager to reopen, even if they didn't expect much business.

“We are going to be open every day for the sake of showing life,” said eyewear designer Ahlem Manai-Platt, who was reopening a lower Manhattan store.

Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed the reopenings as a sign of New York's resilience. But he also warned the city against letting its guard down and jeopardizing its hard-won progress against the virus: "Let’s hold onto it. Let's build on it.”