New York City municipal workers head back into the office

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Restrictions on New York City watering holes are loosening Monday with a return to bar service, and municipal employees who had been working from home headed back into the office.

"We're ready, we're ready, I'm ready, we're ready," said Cheryl Guilford-Jackson, with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Some 80,000 workers returned to the office Monday. The city is the largest employer in the five boroughs.

"City Hall is abuzz today, it's a great feeling," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "I have been at City Hall throughout the pandemic, as has been many of my colleagues. But for the first time in a year plus, we really have the spirit and the energy of this place back."

Many said they were excited for the change.

"I'm happy that I'm going back to work," said Leslie Rodriguez, with the Department of Buildings. "And from what it seems, I'm going to be the only person in my workspace. So there's no worries from me."

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For others, it was just about returning to a sense of normalcy.

"I woke up pretty early just to put makeup on for the first time in a year and a half," said Brittany Wolfe, with the DA's Office.

Still, some are pushing back against the demands to return to in-person work. A rally was held over the weekend outside City Hall, where workers accused de Blasio of using them as political pawns.

They say workspaces have not been properly partitioned and ventilation hasn't been updated, and on top of that, there's the dilemma of daycare.

"We are still in a pandemic and public health crisis, despite what the mayor says," one demonstrator said. "To reach herd immunity, we need a vaccination rate of 70%."

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A special remembrance ceremony was held on Saturday for residents of Queens who have died of COVID.


Others said there were many looming questions.

"I would feel most comfortable knowing that everyone had been vaccinated, and I was sharing a space with folks who have been vaccinated," another protester said.

The mayor however, said the time has come to go back to the office buildings in the city and that they are safe and ready.

"I'm quite satisfied," he said. "It's been a careful approach."

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