Hochul Urges Manhattan Workers to Return to Offices After New Year’s

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to see office workers back in Midtown and Lower Manhattan offices, pronto.

Hochul called for companies to require employees to return to their offices after New Year’s as her administration deems it finally safe to come back for at least most of the week, despite a recent rise in COVID-19 infection rates. The governor made the request as one on a list of priorities she laid out during an Association for a Better New York (ABNY) breakfast Thursday morning.

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“This has had a devastating impact on our economy — the fact that, yes, we’re still fighting this pandemic,” Hochul said. “But people need to know that in a place like New York City, the infection rate is 1 percent; people are vaccinated, they’re getting their booster shots. They’re wearing masks walking down the street, even when they’re not required to. They’re doing all the right things in the city. It is safe to come back; send that message out to your employees to come back to work, we miss you.”

“You can have flex time, but we need you back at least the majority of the week,” she added.

And return, they may.

The Partnership for New York City, a business booster group, predicted in a recent study that while only 28 percent of office workers are at their workstations on a regular basis, that figure could be closer to 49 percent by January 2022.

Hochul also spoke about prioritizing federal dollars to fight climate change and homelessness, and improve safety on mass transit, during ABNY’s event at the New York Hilton Midtown.

She spent time talking about transit infrastructure, specifically nurturing the progress of the Gateway Tunnel program as well as phase two of the Second Avenue subway from East 96th to East 125th streets in East Harlem. There was, however, no mention of exactly when work will be underway on the $6 billion project, scheduled to open in 2029.

“Since the 1940s they’ve been talking about this. Okay, team, time to get it done — long promise, wildly overdue,” Hochul said. “I’m today announcing that we will make good on that promise. We’ll have no more excuses with these infrastructure dollars.”

The governor teased that more information may be forthcoming on the project the next day during an event planned with Rep. Adriano Espaillat. 

Hochul took office in late August after the resignation of her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, who faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, which were mostly corroborated in an investigation by Attorney General Letitia James.

Since then, Hochul has been hitting all the right notes with leaders in the real estate industry by moving forward on state plans to legalize cannabis and focusing on job growth.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.