NYC Announces New Vaccine Mandate on Private Employers

nyc vaccine mandate
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces new vaccine mandates during a virtual media availability at City Hall. Monday. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Private employers in New York City will have to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers, and children over 5 years old will need a vaccine for indoor dining and entertainment venues and other activities, under new rules announced Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

“New York City will not give a single inch in the fight against COVID-19,” de Blasio said. “Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe.”

The vaccine mandate is aimed at preventing a spike in COVID-19 infections during the holiday season and the colder months, as the city gears up for an expected spread of the Omicron variant, which originated in southern Africa and has already hit New York.

The mandate on private-sector workers is for a single vaccine dose by December 27th, applying to in-person employees, not remote workers.

Current rules mandate at least one vaccine dose for indoor restaurant dining, entertainment venues and fitness centers, for anyone above 12 years old. Under the new mandate announced Monday, two vaccine shots (or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) will be required for people over 12, starting Dec. 27, to participate in these activities, and one shot will be required for children aged five to 11 starting Dec. 14. Children aged five to 11 will also be required to get one vaccine dose to participate in “high-risk extracurricular activities,” including sports, band, orchestra, and dance, starting Dec. 14.

Last week, de Blasio announced that employees of all private schools will be required to provide proof of at least one shot by December 20. The mandate will apply to approximately 56,000 employees at 938 schools across the city, and will kick in on the same day as another city mandate, on about 102,000 childcare employees.

Vaccinations are already required for city employees including teachers, police officers and firefighters, except those who have applied to the city, and received approval, for a religious or medical exemption.

For the new mandates, the city will release details on Dec. 15 regarding enforcement, and guidance on religious and medical exemptions.

More than 6 million adult New Yorkers, or 89% of the city’s adult population, have received at least one vaccine dose.

De Blasio said he expects the new mandate to survive any legal challenges.

The mandate will take effect days before de Blasio’s term ends, and Eric Adams is sworn in as New York City’s 110th mayor. De Blasio said Monday he had discussed the new mandates with the mayor-elect.

“[Adams] has always said he understands right now there are urgent threats facing our city, and the mayor’s job is to protect New Yorkers, and that’s my responsibility up until the very last minute,” de Blasio said, “He understands the urgency of the situation. I’ll let him speak for himself about what he thinks about each approach, but he has been tremendously clear that he respects the health-care professionals and their guidance. He respects the science and what it tells us.”

In a statement to Hamodia, Adams spokesman Evan Thies said, “The mayor-elect will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals.”

Council member Kalman Yeger opposed the new mandate, telling Hamodia, “The mayor does not have the legal authority to issue any such mandates. I don’t know why he thinks this is a good use of his last three weeks in office, but it really isn’t.”

In a statement to Hamodia, newly sworn in Council member Inna Vernikov said, “Bill de Blasio has decided to spend his last few weeks as a lame duck by trampling all over New Yorkers’ bodily autonomy. It was private schools last week, and now it’s private businesses. Our Mayor doesn’t seem to understand what the word ‘private’ means. Eighty-nine percent of adult New Yorkers are already vaccinated. The other 11% have made a personal choice – for whatever reason – to remain unvaccinated. That is their right as Americans, and Mayor de Blasio has no business challenging people’s right to make their own healthcare choices.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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