Stacey Cunningham, president of the NYSE, said Thursday the trading floor will reopen to a subset of brokers the day after the Memorial Day holiday.
The brokers that are allowed to return will have to wear protective masks and follow social-distancing requirements, Cunningham said in a commentary published in The Wall Street Journal.
In addition, they will be required to avoid public transportation in order to limit their potential exposure to the virus. And the brokers and others who visit the trading floor will have to undergo a screening to check their temperature before entering the building. Those who don't pass will not be allowed to enter the building until they test negative for COVID-19 or self-quarantine according with federal guidelines, Cunningham said.
Employees of large companies that normally crowd the NYSE trading floor as they oversee the action will largely continue to work remotely, as they have been since March 23, when the NYSE shifted to all-electronic trading as a precautionary step after two people tested positive for COVID-19.
“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 noted that the “rigid measures” put in place to open the trading floor may become more stringent if the cases of COVID-19 surge.
“Until there’s a vaccine for the virus, it’s likely that increased activity will bring new cases,” Cunnigham wrote. “Infections may occur as people venture back to work. Our approach is designed to identify possible cases quickly, which will protect against a broader spread and allow our floor to continue operating.”
Cunningham added that none of the traders or NYSE employees will be required to come into work.
Several thousand brokers and others used to crowd the trading floor of the NYSE as recently as the 1990s. But in the years since, the rise of electronic trading grew to dominate the action on Wall Street. These days, there are about 500 floor traders at the NYSE.