A DOE employee talks to a parent on the steps outside Public School 95 in Brooklyn's Gravesend neighborhood, October 5. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered schools in certain New York City neighborhoods, including PS 95, closed on October 6 in an attempt to halt a flare-up of the coronavirus. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Many of the city schools shuttered two weeks ago because they were located in neighborhoods with spiking COVID-19 rates now have state approval to reopen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

All of the neighborhoods in Queens originally designated as COVID-19 hotspots have now moved to the state’s “yellow zone,” meaning they’ll still be monitored but schools have state permission reopen.

In Brooklyn, neighborhoods that were previously grouped in the “orange zone” are now in the “yellow zone,” giving the city state authority to reopen schools in those areas. But the neighborhoods including Borough Park and Midwood grouped in the state’s “red zone” — denoting the highest infection rates — will stay in the red zone, and schools will remain shuttered for now, Cuomo said.

Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa said on Twitter that schools moving to the yellow zones would be able to open starting Monday.

Cuomo explained Wednesday what neighborhoods need to do to exit the state’s red, orange, and yellow zone designations. They can leave the “red zone” if their infection rate measures 3% or less 10 days after the original designation; can leave the orange zone if they measure a 2% or less infection rate after that same 10-day period; and can leave the yellow zone if the infection rate is below 1.5% after the 10-day window.

Nonessential businesses will be permitted to reopen Thursday in areas where red zone restrictions were lifted. Schools that switched to all-remote learning in those areas as well as in orange zones that saw restrictions ease can reopen in person Monday.

“When we see progress, we adjust the target,” the governor said.

Combined, the initial red zone areas in Brooklyn, Queens and Rockland and Orange counties are averaging a 4.5 percent positivity rate, compared with a 7.9 percent positivity rate the last week of September. That prompted the restrictions, which were initially put in place for two weeks.

Following a two-week-long shutdown on indoor and outdoor dining, restaurants in parts of Queens will be able to resume service Thursday, but with some restrictions still in place, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.

Affected parts of Queens will move entirely to the yellow zone, where indoor and outdoor dining are both allowed, but with a limit of four people per table. Ozone Park has been added to the yellow zone following an uptick in cases there.

The hardest hits parts of Brooklyn, such as Borough Park and Midwood, will not see those restrictions lifted yet.

The statewide test positivity rate is now 1.42 percent, Cuomo said, excluding red zones. The test positivity rate in red zones across the state is 6.61 percent.


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