Times Square is just a shadow of itself. In these times of pandemic, the crowds of visitors and revelers who congregated until late at night, in this most touristy district of New York, have vanished. Broadway theaters have been closed since March and, vaccine against Covid-19 or not, they will not reopen at the earliest before Sunday, May 30, 2021, as can be read on their doors.
At the corner of Eighth Avenue and the famous 42nd Street, the multiplex AMC Empire 25, the cinema that garnered the highest revenues in the whole country, has been closed since mid-March. Opposite, its competitor the Regal has drawn the curtain for good …
While the epidemic again seems out of control in the United States, this Friday, December 4 in the afternoon, in one of the souvenir shops that dot Eighth Avenue, Suraj Patel says he is completely discouraged. There is no one in his store. “I’ve had eight clients since this morning,” he says, looking at his shelves of neatly arranged ‘I Love New York’ t-shirts. I made 214 dollars in sales (about 177 euros), in total. I don’t see how I’m going to get out of it… ”.
“It’s a disaster”
Nearby, at the place where the “Naked Cowboy”, a famous street artist with guitar and underwear, attracted dozens of tourists every day, a souvenir seller made the same observation: “Today, I ‘ve sold three sweatshirts and a cap, on sale by the way, that’s it… It’s a disaster ”
At the entrance of the Marriot Marquis, one of the big hotels in the area, the alley usually crowded with taxis has been transformed into an outdoor “spinning” bike studio …
Several major New York hotels will not reopen, including the Times Square Hilton. Hundreds of restaurants have also gone out of business across the city and Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Café, two iconic Manhattan establishments, remain desperately closed.
READ ALSO> Covid-19: how to avoid the third wave
If the museums reopen timidly, at Lincoln Center, the operas have been canceled, as has the ballet “The Nutcracker”, one of the favorite shows of New Yorkers at Christmas. The New Year’s Eve festivities, which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Times Square each year, have also been canceled, Covid is forcing.
Barely 10 million visitors since March
In 2019, New York hosted a record 66.6 million visitors, both American and foreign, and they spent more than $ 46 billion, making tourism a mainstay of the economy. The first two months of 2020 showed that, with 12 million visitors, the city was on course to exceed these numbers even further.
But since then, there have been a total of barely 10 million, the vast majority of Americans, and among them are the medical staff who came to strengthen New York hospitals, overwhelmed during the first wave of Covid-19 in spring.
More than 800,000 French people came there in 2018, making our country the first in continental Europe, ahead of Germany, in terms of tourism in the “Big Apple”. And foreign tourists spend roughly four times as much as Americans …
The fear of an increase in delinquency
“This summer, it seemed to be getting better, recalls Suraj Patel in his souvenir shop, and we were even starting to welcome a few more people… But the Covid has resurfaced. Indeed, all the turn signals are red again here. We are far from the massacre suffered in March-April which left almost 20,000 dead in New York alone, but the municipality is considering further restricting the activities of residents.
Against this backdrop, many fear that New York may sink into delinquency, or even violence, as in the 1970s and 1980s. The Times Square Alliance, a local business organization, reports that the number of homeless people who sleep on the streets of Times Square has doubled from 2019. “A lot of them are more aggressive than before with passers-by,” President Tim Tompkins told the New York Times. And they do not respect the mandatory distance measurements… ”
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr