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De Blasio To Bring 80,000 Workers Back To NYC Offices In May

New York City has been an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

New York City is the latest organization to firm up its office space plans, with municipal workers expected to report to the office from early May.

Around 80,000 employees of the city have been working remotely, but that arrangement will end on May 3, The New York Times reports. All told, the city employs about 300,000 people, but those who work in jobs like the police and fire department are already performing duties as normal.

Employees won’t be required to wear face masks, but will be encouraged to do so — and vaccinations will not be mandated because of legal concerns.

The move will be cheered by many in the real estate and business community, many of whom have warned that unless workers return to their desks sooner rather than later the city’s quality of life will be imperiled

“Above all else, this is a major momentum builder,” Real Estate Board of New York Senior Vice President Reggie Thomas told the Times. 

However, District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, whose union is the largest for municipal workers, is concerned about call center workers in particular and those who work in social services offices. He noted some 200 members died from the coronavirus, which he partially attributed to inconsistencies between city and state policies.

Health experts across the country are urging caution when it comes to reopenings; while the vaccine rollout is ramping up there are still concerns about variants causing a rapid rise in cases. A spokesperson for the city told the Times it would delay the reopening if a surge does happen. 

It remains to be seen whether the city’s move encourages other workers to return. Ten percent of Manhattan office employees have come back to the workplace as of early this month, a percentage that hasn’t changed since late October, according to the business group The Partnership for New York City.

Half of the major employers the group surveyed do not expect to return until September, and remote work will be a major factor in their long-term plans.

On top of that, there are growing concerns of both companies and individuals leaving for more tax-friendly states for good. Many in real estate have been working from Miami, for example, through the pandemic — making use of the good weather and lax Covid restrictions.