... the city entered into Phase 2 June 22, allowing commercial office properties to operate at 50% capacity, outdoor dining to commence, barbershops to reopen and real estate agents to tour properties. There were fewer than 1,000 hospitalizations from the virus Thursday, the lowest number since March 18, per state figures. But businesses remain cautious with back-to-work plans, and occupancy at many office buildings this week has been even lower than some predicted, industry experts told Bisnow. Sources pointed to the summer lag as a contributing factor. Most acknowledged anxiety around the subway as a serious obstacle, and some said exploding infection rates in states that opened sooner has slowed the return.

"When we see high spikes outside of New York, there may be a fear factor here for going back to work, and it's not a surprise," said CBRE Senior Managing Director of Investor Services Thomas Lloyd, whose company handles property management for 80 office buildings in Manhattan and 20 across Westchester and Long Island. The company has been tracking occupancy levels each day since Monday. In the Downtown portfolio, which covers buildings south of 42nd Street, occupancy over the last two days was at around 6%. In properties north of 42nd Street, occupancy has been hovering around 9%, Lloyd said, and out of a total of 41 multi-tenanted buildings, six are still totally empty.

In buildings in the suburbs, which entered Phase 2 ahead of the city, occupancy is at around 30%, Lloyd said. "They are lower than expected, given the circumstances that the state of New York allowed 50% [capacity] and our surveys of tenants. We were expecting a 15% return to work in the first few days," he said.

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