Like many parts of the world, New York City was ready for a grand reopening. Unfortunately, the Delta variant of the coronavirus (Covid-19) has created vast uncertainty and hindered the city’s immediate future. Office workers are not returning to the office, service workers have no one to serve, and tourism is slow to return to the city that never sleeps.
Instead of hiring new employees to keep up with demand, a New York City florist feels paralyzed by sudden cancellations and last-minute changes. Large corporations have chosen to leave Manhattan towers empty for the next few months. Event planners have canceled trade shows. Broadway clings to the potential for a September return.
Slowing Down Economic Recovery
New York City has not recovered as well as other parts of the United States. The unemployment rate remains at 10.5% – now nearly double the national average – and economists say the Delta variant is making recovery harder. With more confirmed cases of Covid-19, many venues in the city have begun to require proof of vaccination for employees and guests. While hospitalizations have not risen as sharply, and death rates have stayed down, people are still afraid.
Gyms have lost members, big events have been canceled, and jobs have been slow to return. According to one economist who spoke to The New York Times, the Delta variant has stalled the addition of about 20,000 new jobs to the city’s economy.
(When) Will People Go Back to the Office?
Without commuters and international tourists, service industries are suffering. Office buildings have hovered at 30 to 40% occupancy rates, which fell as the Delta variant took hold. Still, there is hope, with building owners saying: “the return to the office is a ‘when’ question, not an ‘if’ question.”
Hope aside, many say it is naïve to think that New York City will ever return to “normal.” After nearly 2 years of remote work, commuters may be reluctant to return to the city, and companies that were physically expanding before the pandemic have been downsizing instead. As one executive chairman of a large law firm explained:
“We accept that this is likely a permanent change in the way people work.”
No one expected recovery to be linear, but the Delta variant has presented New York City, employers, and employees alike with a huge new challenge: the challenge of the unknown. Hotels staff for 50% occupancy only to reach maximum capacity, and small theaters keep selling out of tickets only to see half-full shows.
Business owners describe things as “up in the air,” and there’s no level of certainty the city can grasp hold of.
With variants and vaccines, the only thing that has remained constant is endless litigation. Some businesses have challenged vaccine mandates, and personal injury lawsuits remain as prevalent as ever.
Loscalzo & Loscalzo, P.C. is proud to be a part of the New York City community during this challenging time, just as we have been for more than 50 years. We remain available 24/7 throughout the next chapter of this pandemic, meaning you always have direct access to your attorney.
If you need legal help in New York City or the surrounding areas, look no further than our firm.