New York celebrates end of coronavirus restrictions with maskless parade

By Jorge Fuentelsaz

New York, Jul 7 (EFE).- Thousands of nurses, doctors, firefighters, waiters, delivery people and other frontline workers marched in New York City without masks on Wednesday to celebrate the end of restrictions implemented to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in the largest parade held in the city since things were virtually shut down in March 2020.

Amid clouds of confetti and dozens of bands, the long caravan of officials and workers left Battery Park, from where the ferries to the Statue of Liberty depart, and moved along Broadway to the City Hall, forming a multicolored river of people.

“We’re proud, happy, because this is a moment of celebration, after having suffered so much and having helped the city at the time it needed it most, now you can enjoy things because together we’ve performed miracles,” the medical emergencies director with the Somos medical attention network, Yomaris Peña, told EFE.

New York City has lost more than 50,000 lives to Covid-19, becoming the epicenter of the pandemic in the US during the spring of 2020.

Surrounded by a group of comrades who shouted excitedly “We’re New York,” Peña said that despite the celebration the vaccination campaign must keep going and healthcare providers must “check that the variants continue responding to the vaccines.”

Heading the column of the frontline workers was New York nurse Sandra Lindsay, who on Dec. 14, 2020, became the first person in the US to receive the vaccine.

Seated in the back seat of an iconic Imperial convertible, Lindsay rode down Broadway greeting the curious who approached to applaud the marchers and, wearing the cloth banner designating her as the parade’s master of ceremonies.

The big private hospitals of New York also participated in the parade and sponsored most of the 20 floats in the event.

Among the workers from the healthcare and transportation sectors, officials, teachers and emergency workers were also a group of undocumented residents including Maria Isabel Sierra, from Mexico.

“We’re representing the excluded workers. We’re happy because we won and we’re waiting for the benefits that are coming to us in August,” the domestic worker said carrying a gigantic check to highlight the state aid promised to workers who, due to the irregular immigration status, did not receive any economic assistance after losing their jobs as a result of the Covid restrictions.

Along with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rode on the float following Lindsay’s black Imperial, were several local and national politicians who did not want to miss the occasion.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told EFE that this is the way we say thank you to our frontline workers, adding that the fight against the coronavirus is still ongoing.

Amid the chaos that prevailed in the Big Apple when the first outbreaks of Covid-19 were detected in March 2020, the first big parade to be cancelled was the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which had been scheduled for March 17.

A year later, the patron saint of Ireland was hailed by a small group of people who went through several streets in downtown Manhattan, and LGBTI Pride celebrations were also staged two weekends ago, maintaining the various restrictions although they had been largely lifted by that time.

Authorities announced the end of restrictions with the exception of hospitals, public transportation and some other spots on June 15, coinciding with the announcement that 70 percent of adult New Yorkers had received at least one dose of one of the anti-Covid vaccines.

The percentage has been growing slowly despite the efforts of local authorities and on Wednesday it stood at 72.7 percent with more than 21 million doses administered.


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