New York City is getting back to business


June 8, 2020

June 8, 2020
The Hustle
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It must be especially weird for graduating students right now. To help the season feel a little more normal, YouTube broadcast a star-studded virtual commencement on Sunday, with speeches from Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, BTS, former first lady Michelle Obama, and former president Barack Obama. 

You can read a transcript of Michelle’s powerful remarks here, but we thought this message from her speech was a good note to start the week: “Treating people right will never, ever fail you.”

PS: Congratulations to Allison Batts, Emma Copeland, Kate Turner, Arnuad Moncousin, and Alexander Remtulla, the winners of last week’s Trends quiz contest. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details about your free one-year subscription to Trends.

Digging Out

What to expect as New York City begins to reopen

Today is a big milestone for the Big Apple: New York City is beginning the first phase of its reopening.

Here’s what you should know

The coronavirus pandemic hit NYC harder than any other American city, with 200k+ cases and 20k+ deaths. Nearly 900k jobs disappeared during the outbreak.

Other regions of New York state have already started to reopen — the city was the last of 10 areas to hit all of the required health metrics. On Sunday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio lifted the curfew that had been imposed during the protests over George Floyd’s death.

The first reopening phase means retailers can get back to business with curbside and in-store pickup only. Construction companies, manufacturers, and wholesalers are also allowed to restart work. 

Businesses must certify that they can comply with safety regulations. About 25k in the city had done so as of last week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

  • The first phase could send as many as 400k workers back to their jobs.
  • The city estimated that ~16k nonessential retail businesses will reopen, along with 3.7k manufacturers.

Don’t expect Times Square to fill up right away

If you’re a subway rider, you won’t have trouble finding that coveted seat: NYC’s transit authority is expecting ridership to be only ~20% of normal.

Many large and small NYC businesses won’t open their doors right away. Retailers like Coach, Kate Spade, Ulta Beauty, and Tiffany and Co. told Bloomberg that they either haven’t specified plans for reopening, or won’t turn the lights back on immediately. 

Some retailers are looking ahead to the start of NYC’s phase 2, which could begin in a few weeks — it allows restaurants to resume outdoor dining and retailers to welcome back customers at 50% capacity.

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Mask off

Who is enforcing corporate mask policies?

You’ll probably hear endless reassurances in the coming weeks from airlines about their safety standards. Here’s one: As recommended by the WHO, all passengers are expected to wear masks

But when it comes down to it, those policies don’t have teeth. Airlines are still boarding people without masks, according to The New York Times. One frequent flyer tweeted at Delta, “What’s the point in requiring if there is no follow through?”

It’s bringing up a strange tension: Airlines want to make travelers feel safe. But they’re worried about alienating non-mask-wearing customers who already bought tickets.

Not wearing a mask? JetBlue will kick you out

Language differs a bit depending on the airline: Southwest will still board customers who refuse to wear masks, while JetBlue says it definitely won’t. Others — like American or United — are hedging. In some cases, they say, they may deny boarding.

A United spokesperson said flight attendants will first pull customers aside to “further understand their concerns and discuss options” and that denying boarding was a “last resort.”

The dilemma goes beyond the airline biz

And the brunt of enforcing the rules often falls on the shoulders of low-level staff. 

A Target worker told Vox last month that he wears a “Please maintain a 6-foot distance” pin on his shirt, but customers still go up and tap his shoulder.

Workers sometimes have to deal with customers who get heated, if not violent. Some organizations, like the Michigan Retailers Association, are planning de-escalation training to help employees handle these confrontations. 

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SPONSORED

The make or break of reopening businesses

With the exception of TikTok celebrities, we’ve all worked pretty hard to get to where we are — especially small business owners. 

But the new challenge facing SBO’s may be their toughest yet: Navigating the transition back to physical offices and reopening to the public.

Moving too fast may risk the well-being of your employees (and reputation), while moving too slow could hurt revenue and productivity.

Formstack is here to help you find that sweet spot

With Formstack’s pre-made templates, your business can easily implement COVID-related workflows — including symptom checks, satisfaction surveys, mobile ordering, and appointment bookings.

Besides getting reopening right, their suite of workplace productivity tools will also help you:

  • Communicate more effectively with customers
  • Gather valuable employee data
  • Adapt to any new issues that arise 

And to help business owners in need, they’ve bundled their services together for the first time, all for one lower fixed price *subtle fist pump*.

Get in touch with Formstack today and get ready to go back to work with total confidence. 

Get to work →
Back in the Hot Seat

Scientists funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are speaking out against Facebook

First Mark Zuckerberg got grilled by his own employees. Over the weekend, the scientists he supports turned up the heat.

More than 140 scientists funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic group founded by the Facebook CEO and his wife, Priscilla Chan, said the ‘book hasn’t followed its own policies in regards to President Trump.

Now they want more

In a letter on Saturday, the scientists called a recent Trump post about the protests over George Floyd’s death (“when the looting starts, the shooting starts”) “a clear statement of inciting violence.” 

Twitter added a warning label to a Trump tweet with the same language, but Zuckerberg decided to let the Facebook version of the post stand.

“The spread of deliberate misinformation and divisive language is directly antithetical” to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s mission, the scientists wrote. 

They called on Zuckerberg to “consider stricter policies on misinformation and incendiary language that harms people or groups of people.” 

They may get their wish

For his part, Zuck said in a post on Friday evening that the company would review options for dealing with violating content “aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions.”

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Upvote

To diversify Reddit’s board, a cofounder is stepping down

There are 2 kinds of people in the world: Those who know Alexis Ohanian as Serena Williams’ husband and those who know him as one of Reddit’s 3 cofounders.

On Friday, after 15 years, Ohanian announced he was leaving the Reddit board — and he asked that a black executive take his place. Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman agreed to the plan.

Reddit is getting serious

Ohanian hasn’t been active in the day-to-day of Reddit since 2018, but his decision is a big step: Instead of just talking about diversifying the company’s all-white board, he’s actually doing it.

“I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now,” he wrote in a blog post.

Not only that, but Ohanian committed all of his future Reddit stock gains — possibly as much as $50m, according to TechCrunch — to “serve the black community.” 

His first step: A $1m donation to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp. 

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Snippets

🌎  The world’s major oil producers reached an agreement to continue cutting production through July.

💊  The drug making giant AstraZeneca has approached its rival, Gilead Sciences, about a possible merger.

💰 How community lenders help black and Latinx business owners who are shut out of traditional bank loans.

🚑  Despite COVID-19, street medics have flooded major cities to treat protestors.

🛫  The biggest-ever electric plane just took flight over Washington state.

💎  More proof that the pandemic dulled every facet of the economy: We’ve got a glut of unsold diamonds.

📝  The nationwide demonstrations turned Google Docs into an essential protest tool.

🙈  Meet the Facebook group where people pretend COVID-19 isn’t happening. 

🚫  Why London is awash in coronavirus caution tape

📸  Apple’s newest patent idea: Socially distant group selfies.

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