NEW YORK - Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to return to work in the five boroughs Monday when Phase One of the city's reopening begins after a two and half month shutdown because of the coronavirus crisis.
“So your busiest season became your worst season in history?” Michael Herzenberg asked business owner Gregory Perry.
“Yes,” Perry responded laughing.
He puts on a brave face when asked about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on his business.
“It’s a yes that you have to sing, it going yeeees,” he sang.
Perry sells trophies, medals and mountings for graduations and other achievements.
Business plunged and he couldn’t hire the handful of seasonal employees he takes on this time of year. He also had to lay off his three full time employees at his company, Crown Trophy, in the Westchester Square section of The Bronx.
“They depend on this money to buy their food and all of them had to go on unemployment,” Perry said.
His company is a manufacturer, as well as a retailer, companies in either category are allowed to reopen on Monday.
The non-profit Center For An Urban Future says manufacturing in the city at the end of 2019 amounted to roughly 67,000 job and about
260,000 people were employed by the retailers able to resume operations Monday.
Also allowed to return: as many as 130,000 people employed by wholesalers and workers in agriculture and forestry who comprise a tiny slice segment of the city's economy.
“We've got the biggest office sector in the entire country,” explained Jonathan Bowles of the Center For An Urban Future, “so there's a lot of office workers, that they're still on the sidelines, them not being part of the reopening impacts restaurants, it impacts all sorts of services businesses."
Office jobs will be back in Phase Two of reopening.
But one of the most obvious signs of city life is construction and 33,556 non-essential construction sites can get up and running next week. At the end of the last year construction accounted for 157,000 jobs.
“Monday is the restart,” said Mayor de Blasio during his daily press conference, “that will be something that allows us to let people get back their livelihoods, but it will also come with challenges of fighting back this disease.”
All businesses must abide by social distancing regulations.
The Mayor and Governor estimates 400,000 people will return to work Monday, but it’s unclear if the number is accurate.
Gregory Perry is among many who will have to wait for sales to return before his employees
“The funding we would normally have, we don’t have. I’m basically living off of savings,” Perry said.
There are also questions about foot traffic, without it some retailers may hold off on reopening and even some construction projects that have fallen behind may be stalled until they can find new financing from banks.