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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is ordering about 80,000 municipal workers who have been working remotely because of the pandemic to return to the office by May 3, The New York Times reported.

The return-to-office decision by the mayor will affect employees such as computer specialists, clerical associates and social workers, the newspaper said on March 23.

The workers are being ordered to return even as the city has one of the highest coronavirus case rates in the U.S., the report said, adding that a spokesman for the mayor said that the return will be delayed if cases surge again.

Workers and union leaders worry about Covid-19 exposure returning to in-person work in high-density commercial buildings, as 200 members of District Council 37 have died from the coronavirus, according to the newspaper.

De Blasio said the move to bring back workers will help reinforce the idea that the city is back in business.

“We’re going to make it safe, but we need our city workers back in their offices where they can do the most to help their fellow New Yorkers,”he was cited as saying.  “And it’s also going to send a powerful message about this city moving forward.”

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