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May 28, 2020

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Traders back on NYSE floor

The New York Stock Exchange, the symbolic heart of Wall Street, reopened its floor on Tuesday after a two-month closure due to the coronavirus, with traders donning masks and separated by plexiglas.

Stocks surged following the trademark opening bell, which was presided over by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYSE officials — all wearing masks.

While the NYSE is ramping only gradually, the moment was an important one symbolically for Wall Street and the United States as the country charts its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“The really important thing is to get us down there, to get trading, to be there symbolically,” said longtime trader Peter Tuchman, 62, who stayed away as he is recovering from the coronavirus.

“We’re willing to step back into the floor and to be part of the reopening of the economy, and markets and the world.”

Only about 80 traders, primarily from smaller companies, will be permitted for the first round of the NYSE relaunch.

NYSE market makers, who provide liquidity to other market participants, are still working from home until exchange officials open up more broadly.

All people on the floor must wear masks and have their temperature taken before they are allowed in. Traders will be separated by plexiglas and required to respect social distancing protocols.

The NYSE has also asked floor participants to not take the subway or other public transport to limit the risk of contamination.

“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,” said NYSE President Stacey Cunningham.

Cunningham, in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, said the virus “will remain a stubborn reality,” but that she hoped the exchange could help “chart a path that other businesses in densely populated areas might follow.”

Cuomo praised the NYSE, saying it “reopened smarter than before: fewer people, wearing masks, new precautions that the Stock Exchange has incorporated, not because government said they had to, but because the stock exchange is smart.”


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