Stock traders wore masks at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday as the trading floor reopened for the first time since March. The exchange has been restricted to electronic trading for two months out of concern over the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“We are beginning cautiously with fewer traders, and those that are on the floor are wearing masks and keeping a safe distance,” the exchange said, describing some of the safety protocols it says were developed with public health experts along with state and federal officials.
The stock market’s trading floor went dark at the close of business on March 20 — a time when stock prices were plummeting, casualties of the economic fallout from widespread COVID-19 shutdowns and other disruptions.
In addition to wearing masks, brokers will be restricted to certain sections of the floor to enforce social distancing, the NYSE’s president, Stacey Cunningham, said earlier this month. Most employees will continue to work remotely, and anyone entering the building will face health screenings and temperature checks.
The changes, she said, are meant to protect the workers and reduce the strain on the health care system.
“This moment comes as we begin working together across America to restart our economy,” Cunningham said in a statement on the NYSE website.
By the time the trading floor closed, the S&P 500 had plummeted and the Dow Jones Industrial Average index had sunk well below the 20,000 mark. The fall happened so quickly that automatic circuit breakers had repeatedly halted trading on the NYSE. As of Friday, the Dow had rebounded to 24,465 — a level last seen in January 2019.