The New York Stock Exchange, which was forced by the coronavirus pandemic to shut its doors in March, will reopen the day after Memorial Day featuring a smaller contingent of traders — at least for the time being.
The iconic 227 year-old Big Board plans to transition its market makers back to the trading floor on May 26, according to NYSE President Stacey Cunningham, who dropped the news in a Wall Street Journal op-ed late Thursday. After the COVID-19 crisis forced the Big Apple to adopt strict stay-at-home orders, the NYSE went fully electronic, with many traders and staff working remotely.
“Like so many businesses, the NYSE is operating in an environment that requires grit. We opted to close our floor temporarily in the early days of the pandemic to help slow the spread of disease,” Cunningham wrote.
“Two months later, we’ve learned a lot and are in a position to reopen the floor with vital new safety measures, as we begin working together to restart the U.S. economy,” she added.
Once the exchange opens its doors anew, however, the contingent of floor traders that have become a fixture on television and in print will be smaller. Many of the designated market makers will continue to work remotely, the NYSE boss said.
Cunningham acknowledged that the reopened exchange would “look different from the iconic images so many have grown accustomed to seeing televised throughout the trading day.”
Floor brokers will wear face masks — a staple of post-lockdown life — and will follow “strict social distancing requirements, enforced by a new choreography that defines the space where each person may work on the floor,” Cunningham said.
In order to avoid public spreading of COVID-19, the exchange is asking visitors and floor workers to skip riding buses and subways. There will also b e temperature checks and screenings, and those who don’t pass will be denied entry, Cunningham added.
With New York City still experiencing high infection rates, and many large companies extending work from home arrangements with staff, it’s an open question whether the NYSE’s trading floor will once again become the hub of frenetic activity it was before the pandemic struck.
“The virus will remain a stubborn reality but we can’t keep the country closed indefinitely,” Cunningham said in the WSJ op-ed.
“Given that, our reopening will bring a ‘new normal’ for the NYSE, hopefully helping chart a path that other businesses in densely populated areas might follow,” she added.
Javier E. David is an editor focused on markets and the economy for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @TeflonGeek.
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