We take a huge step forward with the beginning of Phase Two of the restart of New York City. I know a lot of us are excited about seeing the stores in our neighborhoods we love reopening, barbershops and hair salons reopening, restaurants, of course, get back their livelihood. Phase One was a big deal. But Phase Two is really a giant step for this city. This is where most of our economy is.
We believe that today you're going to see somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 to 300,000 people start to come back to work. Some businesses are going to open up immediately, some folks don't come back to work immediately. Others will take their time, some are going to watch and see how it goes. But, we saw it in Phase One, every passing day, more and more people say, "Hey, this is working, I want to be a part of it."
It can't be business as usual. If we're going to help these businesses come back, we have to be there for them. We have to give out the free face coverings. Over 2 million face coverings have been given out and we're doubling it and adding 2 million more for free for small businesses to help them move forward. Any business that needs guidance, they can reach out to the good people at the Department of Small Business Services. Sector guides available at nyc.gov/business to tell you how to restart, if there's any questions and, more importantly, a human being who can help you by calling 888-SBS-4NYC – any questions or concerns about how to reopen that's, where you can get live, help from a person who knows how to guide you.
I don't know about you, but I think the reopening of our restaurants is such an important part of this day, this is so much the identity in New York City. And I am so proud of the restaurant owners, the bar owners, the cafe owners who fought their way through this and now are ready to come back strong and be a part of their communities. And we need them, they're so much a part of who we are as New Yorkers. So, this is a very exciting day to have them coming back. Outdoor dining, as part of our Open Restaurants initiative, you'll be seeing, popping up all over the city. The important thing, of course, is to do it the right way, do it safely. But I think from talking to a lot of restaurant owners, they know the right way to do it. They want to do it the right way. They want to honor the customers and the workers. And here's some evidence. We put the application so that restaurants could use sidewalk space, curb space to put in tables, on Friday morning. Since then, 3,192 restaurants have applied. They have instantly qualified. They are self-certified. They are good to go today. I want to commend everyone at the Department of Transportation and Small Business Services for moving that initiative so quickly. Any restaurant that wants to take advantage of that space and open up more outdoor seating, go to nyc.gov/openrestaurants.
Do we know if people are going to want to engage in Phase Two? Do we know if people are going to want to come back to work, go back to restaurants, go to barbershops? Do we think it's going to actually start up again? And here's what we know, because we've been watching some of the indicators that tell us how much people are re-engaging. Subway ridership – compared to the Thursday before Phase One, just a few weeks ago, this past Thursday had subway ridership up 29 percent getting close to the point of a million subway riders per day. Bus ridership over the same period, 22 percent up. Staten Island Ferry ridership up 31 percent. You're seeing people come back to mass transit, and that is our future, that's crucial. You're also seeing more traffic on the bridges. East River Bridge is up 24 percent. Harlem River Bridge is up 10 percent. So, something's happening. And part of why I think people are engaging mass transit is because there's been a real effort to keep it safe, to create the markings, to show you where to stand, where to sit, the free face coverings, a lot of cleaning. I want to thank the MTA for their efforts. I want to thank everyone at the Staten Island Ferry for their great work. People are seeing that safety and health are being taken seriously and they're responding to it. And that's what matters, people understand that they can come back in a safe and smart fashion.
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