NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) Gov. Kathy Hochul is calling on people who work in New York City to come back to the office.

She says she wants to see employees return early in the new year to bolster the local economy.

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“How about this New Year’s resolution? That in the days after New Year’s that we say, everybody back in the office,” the governor said Thursday. “You can have a flex time, but we need you back at least the majority of the week. Come on back New Yorkers. We miss you.”

Hochul also spoke about the health and safety concerns that have kept people at home.

“People need to know that in a place like New York City, the infection rate is 1%. People are vaccinated. They’re getting their booster shots. They’re wearing masks walking down the street even when they’re not required to,” she said. “It is safe to come back. Send that message out to your employees. Come back to work. We miss you.”

Thursday, Hochul said 80% of adults in New York are now fully vaccinated.

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The governor’s remarks at the Association for a Better New York were greeted with relief by many of the city’s movers and shakers in attendance — people worried about the restaurants and dozens of small businesses whose livelihoods depend on the people who work in the city to patronize them.

“We know the effect on the small subsidiary businesses, the little mom-and-pop shops, the retail, the places people stop for coffee and for lunch. All those little businesses are also hurting until people come back,” she said.

To sweeten the pot, Hochul also made promises about making it easier for people to get back to work.

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“No planned service disruptions and no fare increase for the rest of this year and next year,” she said.

That must have been something of a surprise to MTA officials, including Acting Chair Janno Lieber, who only Wednesday said he could freeze fares for six months.

“Don’t worry, Janno, I’ll find the money somewhere,” the governor said.

Getting the 3.1 million people who worked in Manhattan pre-pandemic back to the office will be a challenge.

A recent study by the Partnership for New York City predicted only 49% of office workers will be back at their desks by the end of January. The study also found one-third of companies expect to reduce New York City office space needs in the next five years.

Partnership president Kathryn Wylde says it’s a tough sell, especially for women.

“Things are looking like women will be the last to come back. They’ll be taking advantage of remote work because of kid responsibilities and other home care responsibilities,” Wylde said.

And it will also be a challenge in the tech sector, for companies like Google and Facebook, which were the largest renters of commercial space during the pandemic.

“We’re very dependent on the tech sector. It’s the fastest-growing source of jobs in the city and only 24% of their workers are expected to be back,” Wylde said.

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CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report, which first appeared on Nov. 18, 2021.

Marcia Kramer