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Subway riders struggle to social distance during coronavirus deep clean

MTA workers disinfected subway trains shut down for the first time in 115 years early Wednesday — with heavy backing from cops making sure to clear off the legion of homeless people riding the rails during the coronavirus crisis.

As workers lined the platform to clean trains pulling in for their final rides before the system closed at 1 a.m., an equal number of police officers ensured the safety of worker and hobo alike.

But the limited service put more people waiting for each train — ironically making some riders feel less able to safely social distance, a 35-year-old Queens social worker named John told The Post.

“The feeling of being unsafe is definitely there. People are still being very close to people – even when there is space,” he said, noting he was also “definitely seeing more homeless individuals.”

“It definitely adds another layer of anxiety because not only do we have to try and protect ourselves from becoming infected, we also need to watch our surroundings a bit more as we wait for the train,” he said.

“From the beginning, the MTA should have limited the services to essential workers and possibly have them provide a letter to travel from their employers.”

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The massive operation meant cleaners could finally deep clean the whole carriage — rather than having to clean around “shantytowns” or those sprawled out across seats.

As the operation started — with more than 1,000 cops brought in to assist — The Post noted officers dealing with those on trains in a methodical, patient manner.

The NYPD’s homeless outreach unit — which includes cops and nurses — was joined by city outreach workers, who calmly tried to help those in need. Most of the homeless — some who tried sneaking back on other carriages — eventually conceded they had to stay away.

Subway system cleaning in New York amid coronavirus pandemic

An MTA worker disinfects a train car after the suspension of service for the night at the Coney Island station.

EPA/JUSTIN LANE

New York City's Subway System To Shut Down Overnight For Cleaning During Coronavirus Pandemic

New York City's Subway System To Shut Down Overnight For Cleaning During Coronavirus Pandemic

Workers sanitize a subway station during a nightly cleaning due to the continued spread of the coronavirus.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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RICHARD HARBUS

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A homeless man who identified himself as Alfa Martin is told by police officers to leave the Atlantic Ave./Barclays Center subway station.

Robert Mecea

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The “massive undertaking” is expected to impact an estimated 11,000 riders nightly, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA, who said buses, vans and for-hire vehicles will be provided to pick up the slack.

Those most impacted are likely to be essential workers still needing to get to the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis.

The 1 a.m.-to-5 a.m. closures, aimed to clear out stations for deep cleaning, will continue for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said.

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NYC shuts down entire subway system for coronavirus-linked cleaning
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