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New York City Workers Head Back To Office Full Time; Indoor Vaccine Mandate Takes Effect

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Monday marked a major milestone on the road to reopening in New York City.

More than 1 million students headed back to in-person classes for the first time in nearly 18 months, and city workers returned to the office full time.

Workers have to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Masks are required in most indoor, communal settings.

Also starting Monday, indoor dining, entertainment and fitness establishments must check proof of vaccination or they could be fined. Businesses that don't comply will face a warning, then fines starting at $1,000.

Additionally, more of the city's recreation centers are now open to vaccinated guests. A few remain closed because they're being used as COVID vaccination and testing centers.


Mayor Bill de Blasio triumphantly declared Monday recovery day, as the city takes major steps to move past the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Bode NYC, Jen Lobo said she is feeling the same energy. Every day, more yogis are returning to her studio, with the new mandatory vaccine requirement easing minds.

"Honestly, we were thinking about it already. We were getting a lot of feedback from our clients, our yogis, saying they would feel safer being able to practice in a vaccinated-only situation here," Lobo told CBS2's Christina Fan.

However, some businesses also were bearing the brunt of unvaccinated customers' anger.

"They came, unfortunately we can't let them because we don't know if they are from the city, just kind of testing us, so we have to, unfortunately, lose the customer," said Mary Colgan of Kobrick Coffee.


The mayor also ordered the entire city workforce to return to the office Monday for the first time since the pandemic. All 300,000 employees were ordered to report in-person, but not all were thrilled.

"People are packed in crowded elevators. A lot of the agencies are not enforcing social distancing guidelines. A lot of the air purifiers are still in boxes," said Jeremiah Cedeno of City Workers for Justice.

Cedeno is still fighting to push back the return date to January, when hopefully the Delta variant is more under control.

Over the weekend, angry employees tried swaying the mayor in front of City Hall. But he remained firm, backing his decision with the city's latest vaccination numbers that say nearly 80% of adults have now received at least one dose.

"It's time. People need their public servants back at work fully. We need to maximize vaccination and the best way is in person," de Blasio said.

The mayor said inspectors from 13 civilian agencies will be enforcing the vaccination policy, adding the goal is not to fine any of the businesses. Those inspectors will first be giving out warnings before any citations are issued.

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