New York City is imposing a vaccination mandate on all private sector employers as a preventive measure to combat a surge in Covid cases this winter, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.
The mandate covers 184,000 companies and comes into force on December 27th. Unvaccinated employees cannot get tested regularly, said de Blasio. You must have received at least one dose by this date. The guideline applies to personal employees who are in a workplace with other colleagues, said de Blasio during a press conference on Monday.
The city will publish guidelines on December 15 to provide more information on implementation and enforcement, de Blasio said. The outgoing mayor said he had spoken to mayor-elect Eric Adams about politics.
Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks while visiting the mobile vaccine bus on Castle Hill Avenue in the Bronx.
Lev Radin | LightRakete | Getty Images
“We have Omicron as a new factor, we have the colder weather, which will really create additional challenges with the Delta variant, we have holiday meetings,” said de Blasio on Monday morning to MSNBC. “We in New York City decided to do something really brave with a pre-emptive strike to stop the continued growth of Covid and the dangers it poses for all of us.”
The New York City policy comes after the Biden administration was forced to cease implementing and enforcing national vaccine and testing requirements for companies with 100 or more employees in order to comply with a federal court order.
“The health commissioner has the power to give a mandate like this to protect public health, and his authority to do so has been reaffirmed time and time again,” said Georgia Pestana, the city’s corporate advisor, during the press conference with de Blasio. “The anger the Biden administration encountered in court doesn’t really apply here.”
The city also requires from December 27th, from December 27th, all persons 12 years and over to show proof of two doses of vaccine – as opposed to one dose according to the previous guideline – for indoor dining, fitness, entertainment and performance venues from December 27th, unless they received the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccination.
Children aged 5 to 11 are required to provide proof of a single dose of vaccine for these locations by December 14, the mayor said. They must also prove a dose for high-risk extracurricular activities such as sports, band, orchestra and dance by the same date.
De Blasio said the purpose of vaccination regulations is to avoid closings imposed in March 2020 when Covid devastated New York City and its economy.
“We can’t let these restrictions come back, we can’t have closings here in New York City, we have to keep moving forward,” said de Blasio during the press conference. “Vaccination works and vaccination regulations work, that’s the bottom line.”
New York City already has a high vaccination rate, with 77% of residents receiving at least one dose, according to city data. New York identified eight cases of the Omicron variant over the weekend, seven in the New York City area and one in Suffolk County on Long Island.
“I’m sorry to say that it will spread to the community,” said de Blasio. “We have to assume that it will be widespread. We have to assume that it will present us with a real challenge.”
“We’ve been to this film before, we’ve been on this path before. We know what happens when we get a new twist, especially one that is highly transferable,” said De Blasio. “We are not going to go back to what happened in 2020,” he said.
Covid cases are on the rise in New York City, with an average of more than 1,500 new cases confirmed every day, according to the city’s health department.
“We have seen the number of cases increase in the past few weeks due to Delta, the devil we know,” New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said at the briefing with de Blasio. “They have more than doubled since a recent low in early November and have increased in every district and in every age group.”
Public health officials are concerned about a spike in Covid cases this winter from the Delta variant as people gather inside to escape the winter chill. They also fear that the Omicron variant could trigger an increase in cases. The World Health Organization said last week that early data suggests Omicron is more contagious than previous variants, although more information is needed.
It’s unclear whether Omicron causes more serious illness, according to the WHO. The people who tested positive for Omicron in the United States so far had mild to moderate symptoms.
Clarification: Unvaccinated employees in private companies have to prove a dose by December 27th. Anyone 12 and over must provide two doses for indoor dining, fitness, entertainment and performance venues by that date.