In a sweeping, unprecedented move, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut joined on Monday to shut down businesses across their states in a desperate bid to stem the coronavirus — as fears of the contagion turned the Big Apple into an eerie ghost town.
Restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and casinos were ordered to close indefinitely beginning at 8 p.m. Monday, adding to the shutdowns of schools and everywhere from libraries to museums and even the Statue of Liberty.
“The faster and better societies close down, the sooner they reopen,” Gov. Cuomo said in announcing the measures with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont in a joint press call.
“I think the federal government should have set up a uniform set of rules, but absent that, having regional coordination at a minimum is imperative, and that’s what we’re doing today,” Cuomo said.
Last week, Cuomo barred most gatherings of 500 people or more, then warned on Sunday that more drastic measures were to come.
Monday’s agreement prohibits most gatherings of 50 people or more.
A small bone was thrown to the eateries and drinking holes, whose businesses have already been decimated by fear over the deadly pandemic — they can still do takeout orders.
Murphy and Lamont have already taken the extra step of closing every school in their state. Cuomo was expected to follow suit, but many school systems, including New York City, have already shuttered.
The number of confirmed cases continued to soar in the three states. By Monday, New York state reported 950, New Jersey 178 and Connecticut 41.
Nine people have died so far from the virus in New York state, as well as two in New Jersey. Connecticut still has no known deaths.
In New York City, the widespread shutdowns and mass self-quarantines caused by fears of the contagion left behind a grim reality for the start of the work week.
Streets typically teeming with rush-hour traffic and subways usually packed with commuters were instead desolate — and left some New Yorkers disconsolate.
“I’ve lived in New York all my life, and I’ve never seen the city like this. It’s a shantytown,’’ said Kristie Flanagan, a 72-year-old retired teacher from the Upper West Side who was taking in the barren landscape along Second Avenue in the 30s in Manhattan.
“There’s a sense of hopelessness and abandonment in the air that I never imagined I’d feel in my city. You’d think by now we’d have seen everything — blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes.”
“The day after 9/11, you couldn’t keep people off the streets. During the blackout of 2003, people were running around in the dark, having a good time. The day after Hurricane Sandy, people were out on the streets, helping to clean up after the disaster,’’ she said.
“But this is apocalyptic.”
Gerald Graham, 48, of Harlem swung by the Equinox gym on East 54th Street for a final workout before it shut, as per the governor’s order.
“Everything that makes the city great is closed,” he said. “Block after block, it’s just, like, dead.”
“It’s super scary. It just fills me with this constant dread — like, when is the invisible monster gonna start picking us off en masse?”
Cathy Kenny, 62 a science teacher at Holy Cross HS in Whitestone, Queens, said the usually busy Francis Lewis Boulevard was so empty and quiet that “it was eerie.”
“Like a ghost town,” she said.
De Blasio said on Monday that he worried that the coronavirus’ spread would only continue to explode.
“I fear this crisis is going to start to crescendo through April, May before it gets better,” he said on MSNBC.
Still, New Yorkers were finding creative ways to stay connected.
A 30-year-old finance worker in the West Village said she texted eight friends to try to set up a FaceTime group chat with wine Monday night.
“I’m alone, depressed and scared,” admitted the woman, who asked not be identified. “I’m usually surrounded by people during the day at work, and now I’m isolated in a studio apartment and have no friends in my building.
“I should have made friends with my neighbors.”
A city pot dealer said he has been keeping busy — by filling orders.
“My regulars called/text to stock up all around the same time this previous week & clients i haven’t heard from in a while called/text asking to meet up with me today,’’ the dealer told The Post in a text.
“most ppl didnt think i would be working & was hesitant to ask lol but they needed their stuff to complete the shopping list, ya dig?”
Meanwhile, chess player Surfi Ahmed, 43, was sitting alone at a table in a Harlem park, holding out for an opponent.
“The way I see it, the coronavirus is something that I’m not in control of, so why should I be worried about it?” he said. “I made $50 yesterday. I hope someone plays against me.”
Additional reporting by Kevin Sheehan, Julia Marsh and Aaron Feis