Photo credit: J. David Ake/AP
The mayor wants New Yorkers to get back to work. That was the message sent Tuesday, a day after de Blasio celebrated the reopening of One Vanderbilt, the city's newest 77-story skyscraper marking a symbolic return of the office life.
"It's time to start moving more and more, but it should be sequenced do we see the impact of each action and make sure the data and the science confirmed that it's time to take the next step," de Blasio said speaking to reporters at his daily briefing from City Hall.
But for days now, de Blasio has been battling vocal criticism from some of the city's most prominent business leaders for what they say is a lack of a public vision for the future, which they feel is key to ensuring their employees can feel safe about going back to work.
Councilman Keith Powers, who represents parts of Midtown, said the city needs to show it is ready to welcome workers back.
"When we talk about Midtown, like my district and office space, I think we are still doing a bit of a guessing game about when we will be able to reopen," Powers said. "It is incumbent upon us as elected officials, number one priority is keeping people safe, and if we can work from home, we should probably continue to do that until we have more certainty about the virus and what we will be able to do to fight the virus."
For now, de Blasio has defended the city's slow, phased-in reopening, saying it has kept the infection rate low, but he has acknowledged concerns about a spike in crime and street disorder, especially in Manhattan.
"For a lot of, sort of, smaller and mid-level employers, of course, start to bring people back as soon as you feel ready. We want to make sure that this city comes back to life," de Blasio said.
But despite calling on employers to draw up plans, de Blasio has yet to release his own plan for how the city's municipal workforce will get back to work.
"I'm not like most employers – 380,000 or so employees. When we move, it has a very, very big impact," de Blasio said. "So, we have to be smart about our sequencing."
The city's next big test is just around the corner. The opening of in-person schooling next week is expected to serve as a bellwether of the coming months. The mayor said once that's out of the way, the next steps will follow.
"In the days after that, we're going to be talking about the bigger approach and the bigger vision a lot more. But there's no question, this is what we all have been doing, is trying to set the foundation so we can have that strong comeback for the city," he said.