The city’s reopening process is pushing forward in a big way today, with approximately 80,000 municipal workers scheduled to return to their offices. Despite assurances from Mayor Bill de Blasio, crowds of workers gathered over the weekend to advocate for continued remote work through September. Perhaps it’s fitting that restrictions on bar seating are also lifting today.
According to a news release, a mayoral task force allocated over $200 million to get offices up to par for the workers’ return with custom plans for 65 mayoral offices and agencies, which include HVAC upgrades and regulations involving mandatory masks, cleaning, and health screenings. Vaccines won’t be mandated but the same release specified that almost 146,000 city workers are now fully vaccinated.
Over the weekend, hundreds of workers rallied at City Hall to protest the rush back to work. Many cited health and safety concerns in old government buildings, while others argued that more in-person after-school programs should be available first, to provide better childcare options for working parents. Commuting residents like Robert Cuffy of Cypress Hills expressed concerns over the subway system to CBS: “I took the subway just yesterday and it’s impossible to do social distancing during rush hour, and this return to work will only make that more difficult,” he said.
Nevertheless, de Blasio is holding his ground. “I think with our public workforce, we need them to come back to their offices,” he said. “We’ll make more impact that way, we’ll serve more people that way. I think it will send a powerful message to the city about our comeback as well.”
Those going into work today will join approximately 220,000 city employees who have already been working in the office or field, meaning that 43% of the city’s total workforce will now be in the office every day, with the Mayor’s office operating at 50% capacity.