New York Stock Exchange to reopen trading floor, with limits

The New York Stock Exchange trading floor on March 19, 2020, a few days before its closure

The New York Stock Exchange will reopen its trading floor later this month but with limits imposed to keep the coronavirus from spreading among brokers, its president said on Thursday.

Amid the disastrous COVID-19 outbreak in New York City, the exchange closed for physical trading in mid-March after a person working there tested positive for the virus, but remained open for electronic trading.

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, the exchange’s president Stacey Cunningham said the trading floor in Lower Manhattan would reopen on May 26 but with conditions that could “hopefully (help) chart a path that other businesses in densely populated areas might follow.”

Brokers will return — but in fewer numbers, and wearing masks while following social distancing protocols, she said.

People working at the exchange will also be barred from taking public transportation and be screened for COVID-19 before entering the building.

The rest of the building will remain empty, Cunningham said, and the new measures “will ease as the situation in the city improves. They may become more stringent if the virus surges again.”

“While our plan is designed to reduce risk, it cannot eliminate it,” Cunningham said, acknowledging that new cases could occur. “Our approach is designed to identify possible cases quickly, which will protect against a broader spread and allow our floor to continue operating.”

The trading floor’s closure in March came as global stock indices plunged and investors grappled with the widespread business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Wall Street indices have recovered some of that lost ground, and — though it accounts for an increasingly small share of transactions due to the rise of online trading platforms — the physical trading floor has facilitated some buy and sell actions.

It also provides a high-profile venue for companies during the ceremonial ringing of the opening and closing bell.

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