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Roosevelt Avenue Goes Dark - The New York Times


NEW YORK SHUTTERED

A bustling commercial corridor in Queens prepared to shut down as residents adjusted to their new reality.

As twilight approached on Sunday, Jatin Prajapati set up a folding table on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, outside a shuttered eyebrow-threading salon. Mr. Prajapati, who works at a pharmacy in Manhattan and lives in the neighborhood, spent Sunday handing out bags containing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to passers-by. They were free, which often surprised them.

“Namaste,” he said, as he handed out bags. “Everybody is scared. I don’t like if somebody is scared,” said Mr. Prajapati, who filled the bags with supplies he bought at local stores with his own money. “I give them the mask and see them smiling, it’s good.”

Roosevelt Avenue, a street that runs under the elevated 7 train, is usually a bustling business corridor. People crisscross under the tracks, patronizing the various salons, restaurants and clothing stores. But on Sunday, the 8 p.m. deadline — the time when the city ordered nonessential businesses to close indefinitely — was fast approaching, and residents in the Woodside and Jackson Heights neighborhoods were trying to adjust to this rapidly morphing reality.

Outside St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church in Woodside, a solitary figure knelt on the steps. Manuel Cuzco, 63, who lives nearby, had come here to pray. A prayer was taped to the door: “Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.”

Nearby, stores like Roosevelt Gift began closing up shop with no foreseeable date to reopen. The owner said he’d give it two weeks and then assess his options.

Orderly lines stretched outside supermarkets — one of the businesses deemed essential. Outside Apna Bazar Farmers Market, a block off Roosevelt Avenue, a masked worker stood in the doorway to control how many people entered. And the last takeout order at Stop Inn, a restaurant in Woodside, was served just before they closed for the evening.

As 8 p.m. approached, people carrying shopping bags scurried across the street on their way home, and the commercial strip went dark, dotted with the glow of essentials: pharmacies, markets, restaurants serving takeout and liquor stores.

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