New York City is planning to return 80,000 municipal employees to the office starting May 3 — more than a year after all but those working on the front lines were ordered to work from home.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who set the May goal during his State of the City address in January, said Tuesday that returning the municipal workforce to the office would "send a powerful message about this city moving forward."
"We're going to use all of the tools that we've learned about distancing, about ventilation, the right way to allow workspaces," de Blasio said at his daily news conference about the pandemic. "We're going to make it safe, but we need our city workers back in their offices where they can do the most to help their fellow New Yorkers."
Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for de Blasio, said about 80,000 city workers are to begin returning in May.
Face masking is required if two or more employees cannot maintain social distance, Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin said.
"We will be doing staggered schedules, you know, making sure that people are in the office sometimes, working remotely sometimes, so that we can ensure that we have enough space to keep our employees safe," she said.
There are more than 300,000 municipal employees, including tens of thousands of cops, firefighters and sanitation workers, who cannot work from home. Those city employees who can have done so for more than a year, beginning weeks after the pandemic reached New York. De Blasio said that most workers are already at their posts in person, and that office workers represent the minority of the workforce.
De Blasio said he hoped the private sector would bring back more workers, too.
"Companies are now seeing it's time to come back," he said. "It's time to recognize that there's progress happening, and it's going to help companies to do their work, and it's going to help surrounding communities to have those workers back."