New York City set for further reopening

People watch a movie at the Skyline Drive-In NYC cinema experience on June 16, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City

New York City's restaurants and bars -- closed for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic -- will be allowed to open outside areas next week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

America's financial capital, the epicenter of the country's coronavirus outbreak, is on track to enter the second phase of a staggered reopening plan on Monday, Cuomo told reporters.

"It's up to all of us to ensure a successful reopening. Be smart & be responsible," he tweeted.

Under phase two of the four-stage plan, restaurants and bars can sit customers outside at a socially safe distance but their indoor areas must remain closed, until phase three.

Hair salons and barbershops will also be allowed to open from Monday as well as offices offering professional services in some sectors such as real estate, nonprofit and IT support.

The further reopening will come two weeks after New York City started loosening restrictions by allowing curbside retail, manufacturing and construction to restart.

New York state has drastically reduced its number of daily deaths, infections and hospitalizations since it become ground zero in America's COVID-19 fight in late March.

The disease has killed almost 31,000 people in New York state, according to Johns Hopkins University.

At the height of the crisis in early April almost 800 people were dying a day in the state.

On Wednesday Cuomo reported that 17 state residents had succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours -- a new record low since the pandemic took hold in New York.

The final phase of Cuomo's plan, expected in late July, will permit entertainment venues, including theaters and museums, to restart limited operations.