On March of 2020, CNBC reported that the global COVID-19 pandemic forced a historic closure of the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange; a March 18, 2020 CNBC post noted that two employees at NYSE tested positive for COVID-19; the closure marked the “first time the physical trading floor of the Big Board has ever shut independently” to rely on electronic trading as it has ever since.
The week of May 26, 2020 marked a major milestone in the New York City pandemic story; the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) trading floor made headlines that week when it partially re-opened the trading floor.
The move follows a two-month shutdown over COVID-19 pandemic concerns, and those worries have not gone away; the reopening comes with a set of restrictions including mandatory mask wear, social distancing, and a reduced number of people allowed inside.
Only 25% of the usual occupancy is permitted during partial reopening.
NYSE Reopens With Protective Rules In Place
Floor brokerages operate on an in-person basis on the trading floor, but Designated Market Makers still operate on a remote basis and do not report in person to the NYSE during the partial re-opening. According to the NYSE official site, “D Orders are available, but Opening and Closing Auctions continue to operate electronically”.
There are other protective measures in place to make the return to in-person trading safer; they include plexiglass partitions and a request for those working in-person to refrain from taking public transportation to work.
A Big Step For New York
The reopening of the NYSE trading floor, however partial, is a significant step in New York City, which was viewed as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States by some; the virus has wreaked havoc all across the United States but some view NYC as a touchstone for how the rest of the country could fare as varying levels of the pandemic affect operations elsewhere.
The reopening of NYSE coincides with widespread easing of coronavirus restrictions on retail, service industries, and other open-to-the-public businesses. Some areas continue to see increases in COVID-19 cases even with partial reopening, other areas have lower infection rates compared to their peers.
In any case, public health experts who are trained and have experience in viral outbreaks and other health issues warn that the entire planet is only in the first stage of the pandemic. More than five million people all over the world have been infected with COVID-19 and at press time there is no vaccine and limited information about possible treatment options.
New York Stock Exchange President Stacy Cunningham is quoted on the NYSE official site saying that the partial re-opening of the trading floor there happens at a crucial moment during the pandemic.
“This moment comes as we begin working together across America to restart our economy. We are starting cautiously, with new safety measures to limit the strain on the health-care system and the risk to those who work beneath our roof.”
Cunningham wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, adding to the sentiment expressed above saying the intent is to re-open while respecting “the sacrifices of front-line workers and the city at large by proceeding cautiously, limiting the strain on the health care system” as well as reducing the risk for those who are now permitted to return to work on the trading floor.
Joe Wallace is a writer and editor from Illinois. He was an editor and producer for Air Force Television News for 13 years, and has served as Managing Editor for publications including Gearwire.com, and Associate Editor for FHANewsBlog.com. He is also an experienced book and script editor specializing in non-fiction and documentary filmmaking.