Girl in masks. Coronavirus theme. Women in the city sits on the bench without protective mask, during quarantine.

An uptick in Covid-19 cases in the outer boroughs in Oct. has businesses worried that lax compliance with a state-mandated mask policy could hobble the city’s economic recovery.

“It’s one of the factors that make it difficult to get people back to the office and back to the city,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the Partnership for New York. “Offices are sparkling and disinfected, and provisions have been made for social distancing, but the key is the people and how they behave.”

Without more people returning to their office, the economy can not recover, Wylde cautioned.

The daily infection rate in the first week of Oct. reached almost 3.3% – the highest number since June – in parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Nine ZIP codes are predominantly responsible for the outbreak. Shimon Rolnitzky, a community activist in Brooklyn, said members of the Hasidic community he works with believe they have developed herd immunity, and relaxed their safety protocols.

Mayor de Blasio recently announced a new initiative to provide free masks to the public. It includes offering information and monitoring compliance in the ZIP codes with high infection rates. De Blasio plans to add 400 police officers, 250 compliance officers from city agencies, and 300 members of the test-and-trace corps to help monitor the situation.

“We saw good compliance when folks were encountered, when there was a discussion,” de Blasio said, adding that businesses could be fined or shut down if they do not enforce social distancing and mask-wearing.

The MTA, which instituted a $50 fine for a lack of mask compliance, had 6,000 encounters with riders in late Sept. About 2,860 were to distribute masks to those riders who did not have one, and 2,500 were to instruct riders how to wear a mask properly. Only six fines were issued to riders for refusing to wear a mask. MTA spokesman Ken Lovett called it “a last resort,” adding that the main purpose is to ensure people wear a mask when they are using mass transportation.

Source: Crain’s New York Business

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