(Photo: Steven Senne/AP)

Mayor Bill de Blasio has concerns about the state’s guidance for reopening gyms, arguing the city needs specific language, and worrying the timeframe for inspections is too tight.

“We’re very concerned about indoor settings,” the mayor told NY1 Political Anchor Errol Louis. “The state was right to make sure that there was local decision making on a lot of important specifics. We are going to be very cautious with that local decision making and choose to take a conservative approach.”

In his weekly “Mondays with the Mayor” interview on Inside City Hall, de Blasio — who has frequently clashed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on reopening and closing plans — didn’t bash the plan released earlier in the day, but he said New York City is waiting on clear guidance from the state and exact language from an executive order.

The governor said gyms in the state that meet requirements and pass a city inspection can open as early as Monday and no later than September 2. But the mayor’s office said city inspectors will prioritize schools and day care centers over gyms, making it unlikely any gyms will reopen in the city next Monday. The mayor’s office did not provide a timetable for when gyms would be able to reopen.

The mayor said the Health Department would conduct inspections to give the green light to different gyms and health clubs, but added that "even more important are schools and child care centers."

An Increase in NYPD Activity?

On the heels of an exponential spike in violence in the city this weekend, in which 51 people were shot in dozens of shootings, de Blasio said NYPD officers will be taken off other duties and assigned to the neighborhoods seeing the most shootings. The mayor contested any reduction in the number of gun arrests is now being addressed, arguing they’ve increased in the past week as the NYPD has been more active. In the same vein, the mayor denied claims the NYPD is no longer involved in quality-of-life policing related to homelessness, despite admitting in the interview that the department is shifting resources to the biggest problems in the city, notably the surge in shootings.

Beginning to Move the Homeless Out of Hotels

While he defended his decision to move hundreds of homeless people from shelters to hotels across the city to protect them from the coronavirus, de Blasio tells NY1 the city is now determining how to move homeless people back into shelters. The city moved homeless New Yorkers to empty hotels across the city due to the logistical challenges for people to social distance inside — some beds can be a foot apart, for example. But de Blasio says it’s now possible to move people back into shelters as the city’s COVID-19 infection rate has plummeted.

The hotels have become points of consternation for local residents on the Upper West Side and Midtown, leading to a divide. While some local residents say their neighborhoods are less safe with the homeless residents — citing instances of public urination and open drug use and drug sales — others say the complaints stink of elitism and racism.

Rejecting DSA Call to Boycott Israel

De Blasio also rejected the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) asking City Council candidates to boycott Israel. The DSA — whose endorsement many Council challengers are seeking as its influence in local elections grows —  sent out a survey those candidates are expected to fill out. But one of the final questions in that survey, which NY1 exclusively obtained, has caused controversy.

It asks: “Do you pledge not to travel to Israel if elected to City Council in solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation? Even though foreign policy falls outside the purview of municipal government, gestures like travel to a country by elected officials from a city the size and prominence of New York still send a powerful message, as would the refusal to participate in them."

While the DSA argues the question is warranted and Council members and members of the state Senate and Assembly often take trips to Israel that are funded by pro-Israel organizations, de Blasio told NY1 he shared the view of many who have hammered the question.

While the mayor says he shares some of the DSA’s progressive policy pegs overall, and he understands anger over oppression Palestinians face, he called on every candidate to reject the pledge.

“You can dislike the Israeli government at this moment or its specific policies, but to suggest that people shouldn’t visit there, I think is wrong,” de Blasio said. “To support the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement is wrong. That would rob Israel of its economic ability to allow people to have a livelihood.”

De Blasio says he supports the two-state solution, and maintains that he’s an advocate for the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis.


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Watch the full “Mondays with the Mayor” interview above.


This story includes reporting by Zack Fink and Courtney Gross.


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