NYSE Plans For Gradual Reopening As Country Battles Coronavirus

With much of the country looking at a path for reopening safely, stocks have been on a rollercoaster recently, as investors ponder whether or face-to-face interactions will increase the transmission of the coronavirus and potentially result in more infections and deaths.

Currently, the coronavirus pandemic has reached a level of more than 4.5 million infections and over 300,000 deaths worldwide, including almost 90,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.

Amid all the chaos, the New York Stock Exchange announced plans to reopen its trading floor to some brokers on May 26, after two months of closure due to the health regulations related to the pandemic, according to NYSE President Stacey Cunningham.

The exchange will reopen its facility to “a subset of floor brokers” the day after the Memorial Day holiday with “vital new safety measures,” Cunningham said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday after the closing bell.

It was March 23 that the NYSE shuttered its trading floor to transition to fully electronic trading after two individuals tested positive for coronavirus infection at screenings the security had set up at its entrance. This was the first time in the history of the physical trading floor that the NYSE has ever shut down autonomously while electronic trading continues.

It was just last month that the NYSE, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc, held a conference call with NYSE staff and the traders who work on the floor on Wednesday to plan for an eventual reopening, but at that time did not set any dates, according to two people who were on the call.

“The NYSE will reopen its trading floors when we can do so with reduced risk and without adding strain on local healthcare systems,” exchange spokesman Farrell Kramer said in a statement last month, without giving further details. The exchange operator also has an options trading floor in San Francisco that has been shut down as a result of Covid-19 regulations.

Cunningham noted that the majority of those “designated market makers,” who oversee the trading of 2,200 NYSE-listed companies, will operate remotely for the time being, as much of the country. However, floor brokers will return in small numbers at first and will take precautions such as donning protective masks while on the floor.

“Our reopened floor will look different from the iconic images so many have grown accustomed to seeing televised throughout the trading day,” Cunningham said.

In addition to protective gear, brokers and visitors will be required to avoid public transportation and will be screened and have their temperatures taken at the entrance, the president said.

“Working under these conditions won’t be easy,” Cunningham said. “It will require substantial commitment, from those on our floor and all Americans keeping the economy afloat.”

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