NYC Workers’ Office Return to Inspire Private Sector, Mayor Says

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 80,000 city employees are expected to return to their offices Monday May 3, providing an “important indicator” to the private sector to follow suit after the pandemic kept millions of people at home.

“People need to come back because we have work to do,” de Blasio said Friday on a WNYC radio interview.

He said the return of city employees will also show the private sector how much the city’s economy relies on them to return to their offices, which he said would spur local jobs and business activity. Less than 16% of workers in the New York metropolitan area were back at their desks as of April 30, according to data from Kastle Systems.

De Blasio on Thursday announced a goal to fully reopen the city on July 1, with arenas, gyms, stores, restaurants and hair salons returning at full capacity. The city is about halfway toward the mayor’s goal of having 5 million people fully vaccinated by the end of June, state data show, and cases and hospitalizations have declined since their winter peaks.

Some parts of the city, including Broadway theaters and full enrollment at school buildings, aren’t expected to come back until September. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has ultimate reopening authority, said Thursday that he hopes the city can fully reopen before de Blasio’s July 1 target, but that he wasn’t going to make projections.

Loosening Restrictions

On Friday, Cuomo said the city’s restaurants will be able to expand their indoor dining capacity to 75% on May 7. Hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services also can open at 75% capacity on May 7, and gyms and fitness centers can open at 50% capacity on May 15, Cuomo said. All businesses must still follow state social distancing guidance and masks are required.

“After a long and incredibly difficult fight, New York State is winning the war against COVID-19, and that means it’s time to loosen some restrictions put in place to protect the public health and help our local businesses,” Cuomo said in a statement Friday.

As New York City dreams of a revival, states including Oregon and Washington have issued new restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19. When asked on Friday how he can make decisions on reopening with so many variables in play, de Blasio said, “by that standard we would never set a goal for anything.”

De Blasio pledged that city workers will return to “a safe environment,” following the same protocols around masks, social distancing, air ventilation and cleaning put in place at the city’s public schools.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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