‘While we are reopening, it is not back to business as usual’

Commence open outcry on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor, with a protective mask firmly in place of course.

The iconic trading venue reopened on Tuesday — with the opening bell rung by New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo — for human traders after a nearly two-month shutdown at the hands of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

But don’t expect the floor to be filled with its usual hustle and bustle of crowds of traders yelling into the closing bell or large entourages of executives walking the floor on IPO days. For now, the NYSE isn’t allowing in outside visitors, including media outfits that have long interviewed the various big names from the floor.

As for the traders that do come back initially, they must wear masks, avoid taking public transportation, practice social distancing and are divided by plexiglass. Handshakes aren’t permitted.

The significance of the reopening on a country still battling COVID-19 infections and deaths isn’t lost on NYSE President Stacey Cunningham. Cunningham started as an intern on the floor back in 1994 and has risen the ranks — her father was also a stockbroker. The long-time NYSE executive knows what the reopening of the exchange floor after serious events such as the September 11 attacks and Superstorm Sandy means to the public at large.

“It’s time for us to start to reopen our economy, to start to reopen America, but to do it cautiously and to do it with everything we’ve learned about this virus and how to protect ourselves by protecting others around us,” Cunningham told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade, while wearing a protective mask. “So while we are reopening, it is not back to business as usual.”

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE – New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo Rings The Opening Bell to mark the historic reopening of NYSE trading floor on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in New York. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo rings The Opening Bell with New York Stock Exchange President Stacey Cunningham to mark the historic reopening of the NYSE Trading Floor. The Governor will hold his daily press briefing live from the NYSE Board Room. (New York Stock Exchange via AP Images)

Despite the robust efforts by the NYSE to keep those returning to its building safe, not all traders will quickly be returning to the floor. Some traders Yahoo Finance have talked with have enjoyed working from home while others continue to practice social distancing in their own residences. Others are excited to return to the floor community for the camaraderie and insights into markets the hustle and bustle on the floor affords them.

“It’s definitely harder,” Meridian Equity Partners senior managing partner Jonathan Corpina told Yahoo Finance about his time working from home. Corpina is among the first group of floor traders to return today, and he is excited to be back.

“Being here in this environment and having other traders around me, we are able to communicate back and forth face-to-face to get price discovery, to be able to enter into larger blocks, to be able to give our clients the best price,” Corpina said.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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