Monday marked just the second of four planned reopening phases for The Big Apple, once the epicenter of US coronavirus cases, after a three-month shutdown and an early-April peak.
Monday was a big day for New York City as stores let in customers, offices welcomed back workers, and restaurants opened outdoor seating, as residents prepare to rebound from the nation’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak. From Macy’s to the World Trade Center, New Yorkers were getting back to business, albeit with new virus-safety measures after a three-month shutdown.
The virus has been blamed for over 22,000 New York City deaths, yet the toll has fallen to single and low double digits in recent days. Infections have plummeted from an early-April peak, even if the last two weeks have still averaged about 250 positive tests a day, according to city data. The long-awaited reopening officially began June 8 with the construction, curbside-pickup retail, wholesaling, and manufacturing sectors taking the lead. Monday’s additional measures amount to an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 workers returning to their jobs. Monday marked just the second of four planned reopening phases, but Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “the biggest step.” The Democratic mayor said he and wife Chirlane McCray planned to mark the occasion by going out for dinner.
The new normal
Unsurprisingly, however, some of the city’s biggest corporate employers are still allowing their staff to work from home.
Only about 5% of Citi’s 13,300 New York employees are expected back at the bank’s offices on July 1. Wells Fargo’s time frame is July 31 or later while JPMorgan Chase hasn’t even set a return date yet. With society at large having comfortably settled into work-from-home arrangements in recent months and employees still concerned about offices, public-transit commutes, and child care, many white-collar companies are moving with caution and safety.
It is yet more evidence that the much-hoped for end to lockdowns across the globe will be gradual rather than sudden for as long as fears of continuing infections and the wait for a coronavirus vaccine persist. But at least for some, the new normal is here.