NYC is reopening because ‘people are vaccinated’: Rep. Maloney
With most COVID-19 restrictions now lifted in New York City, the city's economy is now “turning the corner” as businesses reopen to full capacity amid a boom in new business applications. This is attributable to the fact that people are getting vaccinated, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents New York’s 12th congressional district, told Yahoo Finance Live.
“Many people are coming from out of town to be here,” Maloney said. “The restaurants are open. The businesses are open. I would say the main reason we're opening is that people are vaccinated. So it's safe to go to restaurants. It's safe to go into a store.”
Maloney also serves as chairperson of the House Oversight Committee and is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. She joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss New York reopening for business as well as the federal government’s role in aiding the economic recovery.
Citing a 70% vaccination rate for New Yorkers 18 and over who have received the first dose of the vaccine, New York City has done away with social distancing and gathering limit requirements for many commercial and social settings. According to Mark Jaffe, executive director of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, the city is currently operating at “less than 60% of pre-pandemic levels,” though only 41% of small businesses in the metropolitan area are open.
The state is offering funds of up to $50,000 to small businesses as part of its pandemic recovery program. And though New York City is seeing increased foot traffic as a result of the lifted restrictions, small businesses may require additional continued support.
“We didn't make the 70% goal of President Biden. And I congratulate him for setting these goals,” Maloney said. “Sixty-seven percent of New York adults have really gotten at least one [dose]. Over 60% are fully vaccinated. Over 9 million doses have been administered. And it has been a priority of mine, of the mayor, the governor, and the president to vaccinate that last 30%.”
Maloney said that the city is offering several different incentives to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated, including free tickets for New York City attractions, giveaways, referral bonuses, and cash or even hotel stay prizes. The city is organizing pop-up vaccination sites in underserved areas—including the Meatpacking District and public housing developments, according to Maloney.
Maloney spoke to the importance of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in supporting New Yorkers throughout the economic brunt of the pandemic. “Gig workers” also received unemployment benefits for the first time under the CARES Act’s expanded unemployment policy.
“It was $1.9 trillion, but it brought over $100 billion to New York City,” Maloney said. “They had direct grants going to the mayor and the governor with a discretionary, but there were a lot of direct grants directly to people such as the $1,400 direct payment, the enhanced unemployment. We expanded it.”
Public transportation also received substantial allocation of funds, with “well over $6 billion” going directly to the MTA to maintain operations.
“If you don't have the MTA and the trains running, you can't even get your people to work,” Maloney added. “So that was absolutely critical.”