Coronavirus: New York Stock Exchange trading floor to reopen

A trader wears a mask as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Image copyright Reuters

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is set to reopen its trading floor on Tuesday after a two-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the exchange is likely to look and feel very different as new rules come into effect.

The NYSE is one of the few bourses to still feature floor trade – most have shifted to fully-electronic trading.

New York City has been hit hard by the outbreak with some 200,000 cases and more than 20,000 deaths.

Under the new measures only a quarter of the normal number of traders will be allowed to return to work.

Traders must also avoid public transport, wear masks and follow strict social distancing rules, with newly fitted transparent barriers to keep people apart.

To return to their jobs, floor traders will also reportedly have to sign a liability waiver that prevents them from suing the NYSE if they get infected at the exchange.

According to the Wall Street Journal, traders will have to acknowledge that returning to the trading floor could result in them “contracting Covid-19, respiratory failure, death, and transmitting Covid-19 to family or household members and others who may also suffer these effects”.

The NYSE did not immediately respond to a request for comment on reports of the waiver.

Visitor ban

The new regulations also mean that the NYSE’s high-profile opening bell events and stock market debut celebrations have been put on hold as visitors are banned.

Media organisations that usually broadcast from the trading floor won’t be allowed back until further notice.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The NYSE’s high-profile market debut celebrations have been put on hold

NYSE president Stacey Cunningham tweeted that reopening was an important step towards restarting the US economy after lockdowns across the country.

“For the trading floor community it supports their small businesses, which have been challenged by the temporary floor closure. And for our economy, reopening our trading floors offers a path to reopening that other businesses in densely populated areas may choose to follow.”

The exchange’s trading floor was closed from 23 March and temporarily moved to fully-electronic trading as a precautionary measure to help protect workers.

The 228-year-old exchange last closed its doors on 29 October 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy. The NYSE also shut for four sessions in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

For most people outside the financial services industry the NYSE’s trading floor is a rare glimpse into the seemingly opaque workings of the global markets as well as being a colourful setting for companies to showcase their stock market debuts.

NYSE, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange, is the world’s largest stock exchange in terms of the total market capitalisation of listed companies.

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