The New York Stock Exchange's trading floor, one of the most iconic symbols of capitalism, will start to reopen later this month. In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, NYSE President Stacey Cunningham said the Exchange would welcome back a "subset" of floor traders -- generally brokers from smaller firms -- on May 26.
The trading floor was closed on March 23 after an employee of the NYSE and a floor trader both tested positive for COVID-19 in a screening conducted at the building's entrance. Since then, the NYSE, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:ICE), has been operating on a strict electronic-trading-only basis, with both traders and employees working remotely.
In her op-ed, Cunningham said that those people allowed to return to the floor in the first stage of the reopening will have to follow strict protective measures. This includes the now-familiar social distancing practices, as well as mandatory wearing of face masks. The NYSE president also wrote about "a new choreography that defines the space where each person may work on the floor."
Other measures include a stipulation that the returning brokers not travel to the Exchange via public transportation, in order to limit their potential exposure to the virus. All returnees will also have to undergo screening to enter the building, which includes a check of their temperatures. Finally, Cunningham promised that the trading floor would be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized every day.
Even a partial reopening is important not only for Intercontinental Exchange, but also for the companies whose stocks trade on the NYSE, according to Cunningham. "[S]tocks trade better when the floor is open, with reduced volatility and fairer prices," she wrote.
On Thursday, Intercontinental Exchange essentially traded level, in contrast to the gains posted by the wider stock market, and by numerous fellow finance sector companies.