NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange plans to reopen its iconic trading floor, which is shuttered due to coronavirus concerns, as soon as possible, but it has not yet set a date to do so, the NYSE and people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in the financial district of lower Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

“The NYSE will reopen its trading floors when we can do so with reduced risk and without adding strain on local healthcare systems,” exchange spokesman Farrell Kramer said in a statement, without giving further details. The exchange operator also has an options trading floor in San Francisco that is closed due to the pandemic.

The NYSE, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE.N), held a conference call with NYSE staff and the traders who work on the floor on Wednesday to discuss an eventual reopening, but did not set any dates, according to two people who were on the call.

The exchange plans to reopen floor trading in phases, monitoring everyone who enters 11 Wall Street for symptoms and ensuring traders adhere to social distancing guidelines, the people said.

New York City is now the epicenter of the global pandemic. Home to more than 8 million people, the city had 150,976 confirmed coronavirus cases and 16,388 related deaths as of Thursday.

As a financial exchange, the NYSE is considered an essential service and can open the floor when it wants, but it has taken a cautious approach.

The NYSE announced on March 18 it would temporarily shutter the floor and move to fully electronic trading for the first time the its 228-year history, after one of its employees and a trader tested positive for COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the coronavirus.

Days later, at least two more floor traders tested positive, despite measures taken to prevent people with the virus from entering 11 Wall Street while it remained physically open the previous week, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

At the time, the NYSE recommended anyone who had visited the floor in the previous two weeks self-quarantine for 14 days.

Floor trader Peter Tuchman said on March 25 on Twitter that he tested positive for the coronavirus on after battling symptoms for a week.

After recovering, Tuchman was itching to get back to work, Tweeting on April 21, “looking forward to get our lives back on track open the New York Stock Exchange and see each other all again I love you all.”

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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