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New Rochelle, home to NYs first Covid-19 cluster, slowly reopens for business

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The New York suburb of New Rochelle, home to one of the first coronavirus clusters in the US, began to slowly reopen for business on Tuesday.

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A containment zone was declared around the city in mid March, well before the rest of NY State went into lockdown, after a New Rochelle lawyer contracted and unwittingly spread the virus by attending his synagogue and other gatherings.

New York then went on to become the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the US.

Westchester County, which includes New Rochelle, started phase one of reopening Tuesday, which includes construction, manufacturing and curbside and in-store pickup at some retailers.

The executive director of New Rochelles Chamber of Commerce, Catherine White, said that it was a “monumental day” because “we had been waiting for signs that things were moving forward, definite concrete signs that things are getting better.”

White added that while the virus had hit the city hard, many New Rochelle businesses had managed to be innovative and successfully go virtual. She cited a baseball coach who now teaches from his backyard and whose virtual gym classes have gained him students across the US.

“The most important thing now,” White said, “is to keep our numbers down.”

If infection rates continue to drop in the area for the next two weeks, then it can enter phase two of reopening, which would include personal services and more retail and administrative businesses. Phase three would include additional restaurants and food services.

White herself went to get the Covid-19 antibody test in the nearby city of White Plains on Tuesday. She said she had been bedridden with a high fever back in late December. White joked that perhaps her daughter, who might have given her the virus (Covid-19 or not) had actually been NY's real patient zero.

Residents on the streets of New Rochelle expressed cautious optimism about the gradual reopening of business.

Louis Vaccara, the owner of a curtain store that has been on Main Street since 1976, said he was “thrilled to be opening”.

“Weve been waiting for this for months.” Vaccara said, “We need this. Weve all lost friends and family because of this and its scary but I think this is the right step, as long as everyone is responsible.”

A 73-year-old employee of Read More – Source