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CEOs say New York City must restore safety
2020-09-14 
People walk by restaurant's outdoor patios after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced 21 more locations for outdoor dining options as part of a city initiative that combines the Open Streets and Open Restaurants programs in place to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City, US, August 14, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

About 160 business leaders and Wall Street chief executives sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio telling him that restoration of "public safety" and attention to "quality of life" issues are vital to restoring the city's economic health after the coronavirus lockdown.

"There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the (city's) five boroughs," they said.

"We urge you to take immediate action to restore essential services as a necessary precursor for solving the city's longer term, complex economic challenges."

The letter is signed by chief executives of companies that employ about 1.5 million New Yorkers, including MasterCard, Nasdaq, Macy's, Morgan Stanley, Standard & Poor's Global and Goldman Sachs.

In response, de Blasio said: "We're grateful for our business community and are partnering to rebuild a fairer, better city. Let's be clear: To restore city services and save jobs, we need long-term borrowing and a federal stimulus-we need these leaders to join the fight to move the city forward."

The New York Times said there were about 18,000 homeless single adults in the city's shelter system, compared with 15,000 before the pandemic.

Homeless people, once a rare sight on Manhattan's Upper West Side, were for a time housed in hotels left vacant after the collapse of tourism during the coronavirus pandemic. Residents objected.

Violent crime increased during the summer after the city eased some lockdown restrictions.

In the four weeks to Sept 6, there were 222 shootings in New York, compared with 90 in the corresponding period last year. There were 55 homicides, compared with 37 in the same period last year, police said.

Times Square, site of the annual ball drop to celebrate the new year, is now devoid of crowds because few workers have returned to midtown high-rises.

Meanwhile, JP Morgan Chase is calling sales and trading staff back to the office, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper, citing "people familiar with the matter", did not say how many people would return by the Sept 21 deadline.

Like many New York City workers, many Wall Street employees have been working from home since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March.

UBS Group told its employees in a note, "We expect you to return at your own pace and when you feel comfortable."

The United Federation of Teachers, which represents the city's public school staff, said it will prevent schools from reopening on Sept 21 unless the Department of Education improves its coronavirus testing.

Sixteen of the city's 15,000 teachers have tested positive for the virus, the union said, adding that it takes too long for teachers to get results, which means some could unwittingly spread the virus.

"If the city can't live up to its side of this agreement, then we're going to say you can't open," Michael Mulgrew, president of the union, told NBC.

Earlier this month, restaurant owners sued de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over the city's continued ban on indoor dining.

The suit alleged that New York City had met previously stated reopening guidelines.

Restaurant owners said it made no sense that they were forced to remain closed while indoor dining was permitted on Long Island and in upstate New York. New Jersey also permits limited indoor dining.

The governor ordered the city's bars and restaurants to close in mid-March as part of the effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

After the lawsuit was filed, Cuomo said restaurants could reopen on Sept 30, though indoor seating would be limited to 25 percent of capacity.

If there isn't a significant increase in new infections, Cuomo said, the city could later increase seating to 50 percent of capacity. A decision is expected to be made by Nov 1.

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