Mayor Eric Adams did not keep his desire to expedite the recovery of New York City from the coronavirus. Regular briefings with health authorities encouraged him with his latest indicators. 90% for adults.
But Adams sought input from another major sector.
Earlier this month, the mayor entertained 12 business leaders at the official residence of Gracie Mansion. According to several participants, Adams drank vegan mushroom couscous and wine and asked what it took to get people back to the office. The difficulty of persuading workers to return five days a week, and whether three days are more realistic, and the importance of keeping the subway safe.
The mayor and his team left the event with a to-do list, including the creation of a marketing campaign to highlight the city’s resurrection.
If a gathering at Gracie Mansion seems unusual, it’s for the following reasons: Most business leaders have never been in the mayor’s residence.
Democrat Adams regularly talks with some of the city’s most influential business leaders, including David Solomon, CEO of banking company Goldman Sachs, and Jonathan Gray, president of private equity fund Blackstone. , I’ve been asking for advice. — In stark contrast to Adams’ predecessor, Bill de Blasio, who had a relationship with the business community.
The meeting says Adams is not only focusing on the reopening of a city that has been devastated by a pandemic and is now slowly recovering to health, but will also work with city business leaders to make that happen. He also emphasizes his determination.
Since taking office in January, former police officer Adams has had to deal with a series of high-profile crimes, including the shooting of two police officers and violent attacks on Asian Americans. The stab wounds of two workers at the Museum of Modern Art, the death of an 87-year-old vocal coach pressed against the ground on the Chelsea sidewalk, and disclosure that shooters targeted homeless men on the streets of Lowerman Hattan and Washington. , DC
But in recent weeks, Adams, who has made dealing with crime the central theme of the mayor’s bid, has begun to emphasize another major campaign message. New York needs to return to normal, and the mayor believes it is time.
The mayor has recently terminated his school mask obligations and lifted vaccination requirements for indoor activities. He traversed the city endlessly to convey the importance of the city abandoning its pandemic lifestyle. -Famous events such as ringing the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange and attending Fashion Week with Anna Wintour.
“You can’t stay home in pajamas all day,” Adams announced at the event with his economic development team. With humans. “
The city’s financial challenges are dire. The unemployment rate remains high at around 7.5%, about twice the national average. Office vacancy rates have risen to 20%, the highest level in 40 years. Tourism is not expected to recover until 2025. Budgets rely on billions of dollars of federal aid that will never last.
Last week, Adams released a 59-page “blueprint” for the city’s reconstruction, focusing on reducing gun violence, eliminating homeless people from the subway, and making outdoor food permanent. did.
Charles Phillips, founder of the private equity firm that hosted the Gracie Mansion event, said: An attractive city from a safety standpoint. “
Business leaders told the mayor that the timing of New York City’s recovery is urgent.
Scott Rechler, chairman and chief executive officer of RXR Realty, a leading commercial real estate company and another adviser to the mayor, said: The numbers I’m excited about are usually in the 90’s, but all CEOs and HR managers are planning to bring people back in the next 60-90 days. “
Two years after the pandemic, the city’s economy faces many challenges. Many employers are expected to adopt a hybrid approach in which workers come three days a week, and sales tax revenues are expected to decline by $ 111 million annually. Hotel occupancy rate According to hospitality analysis firm STR, the Omicron variant plummeted to 40% in January, when it hit, but fell to 67% in mid-March.
Subway passenger numbers are about 60% of pre-pandemic levels, and transportation leaders suggest that system funding can no longer be heavily dependent on fares. On Broadway, there are 20 shows in 41 homes, with about 85% attendees. , And more shows are scheduled to open by the end of April.
Mary Ann Thai, CEO of CBRE, a real estate company in the New York region, has spoken several times since Adams took office, and it’s important to ensure that people can return home comfortably. He said there was.
“It’s important to understand the basics correctly. People return to a safe and clean city. These two conditions allow the city to do much of what it does organically. To produce great art. You can cook great food and make great commerce. “
On his last day as Mayor of De Blasio, he continued to deliver almost daily news briefings about the virus, which claimed the lives of 40,000 people in New York City and consumed his last two years in office.
Adams didn’t continue practicing. He is regularly asked by journalists, but his last news conference, which focused on viruses and the city’s health system, did not focus on deregulation or economic recovery. On the same day at the Brooklyn Health Center, he announced a $ 100 incentive for those who received booster shots.
He does not talk about the recent rise in concern about the BA.2 subvariant, which is driving the rise of incidents in the United Kingdom. Instead, the mayor seems to be devoted to delivering another message.
At a recent event in Times Square, Adams approached a random pedestrian in search of tourists, found one from Canada, and delivered the simple message of “spend money.”
Three days later, Adams played the same pitch at the Greenwich Village Blue Note Jazz Club.
Not only is he a cheerleader in the city, he also accepts the role of a city psychologist, encouraging New Yorkers to overcome the pandemic trauma and stop “swallowing.” Adams said removing the mask at school is an important step.
“Returning to normal is a substantive and symbolic thing we have to do,” Adams said in an interview. Look again at our faces, especially the children. “
Some elected officials warned Adams’ decision to remove the mask at school, noting that vaccination rates for some children were low. We also had problems removing vaccination requirements for restaurants, cinemas and other indoor activities. Mandate made the eater feel safer.
Mark Levine, Mayor of Manhattan, Democratic Party, said:
But even though Adams lifted some pandemic rules, he also maintained his vaccination obligations for employees of private companies working directly with local government workers. According to those familiar with the debate, the infection will drop to a level that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers low.
Adams said he kept his employer’s obligations because people spend more time at work and have a longer risk of exposure over eight hours of work.
“Doctors strongly feel that it is the most sensitive place to take over Covid,” he said in an interview.
Adams also acknowledged that workers may not return to the office five days a week, saying they are open to converting an office building in Midtown, Manhattan into a home, and recently an office with waterside views. After visiting, “Please put your kitchen here. I want to live here.”
Some critics, including Joseph Borelli, a Republican minority leader in the city council, who recently ate with Adams at Angelina’s restaurant on Staten Island, wanted the mayor to end his private sector mission. I’m out.
“They are a barrier for people who may want to get back to work in New York,” Borelli said, adding that a friend who was unvaccinated and worked in finance was working in a New Jersey office. rice field. Delegation.
Similar criticism extends to another unvaccinated New York employee, Kyrie Irving, a Brooklyn Nets starpoint guard who is banned from playing in New York City. Irving’s teammate Kevin Durant added the hashtag #FreeKyrie, saying Adams “LeBron James is on Twitter and banning Irving is” totally meaningless. “
Adams suggested a simple solution.
“Kylie can play tomorrow,” the mayor said at a recent press conference.
Sharon Otterman contributed to the report.