New York City To ‘Fully Reopen’ July 1, De Blasio Declares
Mayor Bill de Blasio has pegged the start of July to completely reopen most businesses in New York City, though Broadway will still be shuttered for months after that.
Restaurants, shops and stadiums will be allowed to operate at full capacity from July 1, de Blasio said Thursday morning on MSNBC. He has also said he wants the subway back to running 24 hours a day, and he expects the capacity restrictions on salons, gyms and museums that have been imposed in varying degrees for the last year will be removed.
"This is going to be the summer of New York City,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. “You're going to see amazing activities, cultural activities coming back. I think people are going to flock to New York City, because they want to live again …. We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters — full strength.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, makes the decisions about restrictions on businesses. The mayor said he hasn't spoken to the governor about his plans. A Cuomo spokesperson told The New York Times reopening decisions still fall under the embattled governor’s purview.
On Monday, the state reduced restrictions on office buildings, allowing them to open at 75% capacity as of May 15, up from the current 50%. Right now, casinos are capped at 25% and will go to 50% in mid-May, while gyms and fitness centers outside the city will jump to 50% capacity caps. Cuomo this week announced that as of next week, seating at bars will be allowed once more and the curfew on outdoor and indoor dining will be lifted by the end of next month.
Restaurants can operate at 50% capacity indoors in the city, per state rules.
New York City businesses have been hit hard by closures and restrictions, with few tourists and little business travel causing the hospitality sector in particular to struggle. Some hotels are now planning their reopening, however, after months of being closed. Apartment lease signings have jumped in recent months, too, as renters have moved to lock down deals in a depressed market.
But the return to office has so far not happened, with many companies delaying bringing workers back to desks en masse after protracted remote work arrangements — even after encouragement from some of the biggest real estate companies in New York.
The focus has now switched to smaller firms, with chambers of commerce across the city now working with coworking companies to encourage small and midsized businesses to come back.
“What we are seeing is large companies are coming back very slowly. Much of their workforce, they need time to plan,” Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President Jessica Walker said on Bisnow’s podcast last week. “Small and midsized business can be more nimble with their workforce ... We are still 25% below the foot traffic that we were at before the pandemic began. That does show that we have a lot of remote workers and people who have left the city, but I do think we are at that point where people are starting to think about coming back.”