NEW YORK, NY — For the first time in New York City’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis, certain neighborhoods could be headed back into lockdown, health officials said.
The NYC Health Department warned late Thursday that Brooklyn and Queens ZIP codes facing coronavirus upticks will face new shutdown-era rules next week should their spikes in cases continue to rise.
The shutdown would include closing all non-essential businesses, prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people, issuing fines to those not wearing masks and closing private schools and childcare centers found flouting Department of Education rules.
“These clusters continue to see considerable growth in COVID-19,” the health department said. “If the indicators continue to rise, there must be additional enforcement actions.”
The shutdown threat comes just a few days after city officials warned about “clusters” of COVID-19 cases centered on Ocean Parkway, Edgemere and Far Rockaway, Williamsburg and Kew Gardens.
As of Thursday, the percent positivity rate in neighborhoods included in the clusters was at least three times, in some cases six times, more than the city’s overall infection rate:
Edgemere Far Rockaway: 4.08%
Kew Gardens: 3.99%
Borough Park: 3.53%
Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay: 3.07%
Health officials have said that they are especially concerned about spikes in the city’s Orthodox Jewish communities, many of which are found in the neighborhoods facing upticks.
Starting on Friday, the department will start regular inspections of all non-public schools within the clusters and nearby ZIP codes, officials said.
The Sheriff and NYPD will continue to monitor mask compliance in the neighborhoods, which officials said has been overwhelmingly low compared to other areas of the city.
The city’s Office of Special Enforcement specifically found people not wearing masks in stores and is revisiting stores that didn’t show compliance on the first visit, officials said.
Top city health officials also talked with community leaders on Thursday about the increase in cases and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially amid the High Holidays.
Mobile testing units will be sent to Midwood, Williamsburg, Borough Park, Kew Gardens and Far Rockaway, along with “sound trucks” with messages in English and yiddish about testing.
Should the upticks not improve by Monday evening, the shutdown rules will start Tuesday, the department said.
This article originally appeared on the Prospect Heights-Crown Heights Patch