CORONAVIRUS

NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private sector employers

Dec 6, 2021, 7:17 AM | Updated: 10:22 am
FILE: Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks onstage at the American Museum of Natural History Gala 2021 on No...
FILE: Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks onstage at the American Museum of Natural History Gala 2021 on Nov. 18, 2021, in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for American Museum of Natural History)
(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for American Museum of Natural History)

NEW YORK (AP) — All private employers in New York City will have to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor announced Monday, imposing one of the most aggressive vaccine rules in the nation.

The move by Mayor Bill de Blasio comes as cases are climbing again in the U.S. and the worrisome but little-understood omicron variant is gaining a toehold in New York and elsewhere around the country.

“We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us,” he said.

De Blasio, a Democrat with just weeks left in office as leader of the nation’s largest city, said the mandate will take effect Dec. 27, with workers needing to provide proof of having received at least one dose of the vaccine.

It will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses in the city of 8.8 million people, according to a spokesperson for the mayor.

De Blasio said the measure is aimed at staving off a spike of infections amid holiday gatherings and as cold weather drives more people indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread.

Vaccine rules across states and cities vary widely, with some states resisting any mandates and others requiring the shots for government employees or certain sectors that run a particularly high risk, such as health care workers.

But no state has announced a broad private-sector mandate as New York City has, according to the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy.

President Joe Biden sought to impose a similar mandate nationally, one that would apply to businesses with 100 or more workers, but federal courts have put that on hold ahead of the Jan. 4 deadline. And the Biden plan would allow workers to opt out of the shots by getting tested regularly for COVID-19.

De Blasio said he expects his new mandate to survive any legal challenges. And while workers will be able to ask for religious or medical exemptions, they will not be allowed to choose regular testing instead. The mandate will apply only to in-person employees, he said.

Also, the mayor announced that anyone 12 or older who wants to dine indoors at a restaurant, go to a gym or see a show will have to produce proof of having received two shots of the vaccine, up from the current requirement of one dose. In addition, children ages 5 to 11 will have to show proof of at least one shot, de Blasio said.

De Blasio said he will release more details next week about how the mandate will be enforced.

About 5.9 million adults in New York City have gotten at least a first dose, out of 7 million people age 18 and up. That translates to 84%.

Cases of the omicron variant have been reported in about one-third of the states, but scientists cannot say for certain yet whether it is more dangerous than previous versions. The delta variant still accounts for nearly all infections in the U.S., and a rise in cases in recent weeks has swamped hospitals, especially in the Midwest and New England.

Health experts have strongly urged people to get their shots and a booster, saying they believe the vaccine will still offer protection against the new form of the virus.

“Vaccination is the central weapon in this war against COVID. It’s the one thing that has worked every single time across the board,” de Blasio said at a virtual news conference.

“A lot of folks to me in the private sector have said to me they believe in vaccination, but they’re not quite sure how they can do it themselves,” he continued. “Well, we’re going to do it.”

Vaccinations are already required in New York City for hospital and nursing home workers and for city employees, including teachers, police officers and firefighters. A vaccination mandate for employees of private and religious schools was announced last week.

De Blasio, who leaves office at the end of the month and has indicated he may seek the nomination for governor of New York next year, has sought to portray himself as a national leader in the fight against COVID-19. His other vaccine mandates have largely survived legal challenges, and he has credited the policy with raising vaccination rates among the reluctant.

The new mandate takes effect days before de Blasio leaves office and Democrat Eric Adams is due to be sworn in. Evan Thies, a spokesman for Adams, said in a statement that 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.”

The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which includes some 30,000 businesses big and small, said it supports the tightened measures.

The group’s executive director, Helana Natt, said businesses have been hurting since the pandemic closed restaurants, bars and other places and turned busy spots like Times Square practically into ghost towns.

“Now things are turning around, and we want to make sure that we don’t go backward,” Natt said.

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, called the newly announced requirement a “job-killing, small business-suppressing mandate.”

“When you dangerously combine a far-left, lame duck politician, who is anti-business, one-dimensional, unaccountable, not bright and has a perpetual ‘I always know best’ attitude,’ you get Bill de Blasio, the Worst Mayor in America,” Zeldin said in a statement.

___

Associated Press writer Bobby Caina Calvan contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that the deadline for the mandate is Dec. 27.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

Protesters hold up blank papers and chant slogans as they march in protest in Beijing, Sunday, Nov....
Jessie Yeung and CNN's Beijing bureau

Rare protests are spreading across China. Here’s what you need to know

From Shanghai to Beijing, protests have erupted across China in a rare show of dissent against the ruling Communist Party.
14 hours ago
Police officers block Shanghai's Urumqi Road on Sunday. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)...
CNN's Beijing bureau and Nectar Gan

Protests erupt across China in unprecedented challenge to Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy

Protests erupted across China throughout the weekend, including at universities and in Shanghai where hundreds chanted "Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party!"
2 days ago
Salt Lake City Police at the University of Utah Hospital due to a possible bomb threat. (Salt Lake ...
Michael Houck

Police: Unattended bag led to bomb squad response at U of U Hospital

Salt Lake City Police responded to a possible bomb threat at the University of Utah hospital Tuesday afternoon.
14 days ago
Evusheld...
Elizabeth Cohen and Naomi Thomas, CNN

COVID-19 medicine for immunocompromised patients is losing effectiveness

Judy Salins considers herself a smart, empowered patient, but until this week, she had no idea that the medicine she takes to defend herself against Covid-19 isn't protecting her as well as it used to.
18 days ago
Paxlovid, the antiviral pill that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, also...
Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

Paxlovid reduces risk of long Covid, Veterans Affairs study finds

Paxlovid, the antiviral pill that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, also reduces the risk of long Covid, according to a new study by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
23 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks at a Democratic National Committee event at the Howard Theatre on Octobe...
Darlene Superville, Associated Press

Biden to get updated COVID-19 booster shot, promote vaccine

President Joe Biden was scheduled to get his updated COVID-19 booster shot on Tuesday and urge the public to get theirs to ensure a healthy holiday season.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private sector employers