All private companies in New York City will be required to force their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor declared Monday, in the most comprehensive vaccination mandate of any state or large city in the United States.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision comes as instances in the United States are on the rise again, and the alarming but little-understood omicron variety is spreading across the country, including in the nation’s largest metropolis.
“We in New York City have chosen to employ a preemptive strike to do something bold to stop COVID’s future spread and the threats it poses to all of us,” he stated.
De Blasio, a Democrat with only a few weeks left in office, said the rule will go into effect on Dec. 27, and in-person workers will be need to provide confirmation of receiving at least one dosage of the vaccination. They also won’t be able to opt out of the obligation by consenting to regular COVID-19 testing in its place.
According to a spokeswoman for the mayor, the legislation would apply to around 184,000 enterprises in the city of 8.8 million people that have not been included by prior vaccination mandates, ranging from multinational firms to mom-and-pop shops. The private sector employs 3.7 million people in the metropolis.
In addition, anybody 12 or older who wants to eat indoors at a restaurant, attend to the gym, or see a concert will need to show documentation of receiving two doses of the vaccination, up from the present minimum of one dosage, according to the mayor. In addition, children aged 5 to 11 will be required to present confirmation of at least one vaccination.
The measures, according to De Blasio, are intended to prevent an outbreak of the virus during Christmas festivities and cold weather, which pushes more people indoors, where the illness may spread more easily.
Phil Penta, the owner of Three Guys from Brooklyn, a specialized food store, believes the looming mandate will force him to terminate valuable employees who refuse to take the vaccination.
“Everyone wants to do the right thing,” Penta said, adding that the great majority of his nearly three dozen staff had been vaccinated. “I appreciate their freedom to say they don’t want to accept it,” he continued.
Vaccination laws vary greatly between states and towns, with some refusing to impose any mandates and others demanding vaccinations for government personnel or select sectors that are more vulnerable, such as health care workers.
According to statistics maintained by the independent National Academy for State Health Policy, no state has announced a comprehensive private-sector requirement like New York City’s.
President Joe Biden proposed a national requirement forcing employees of companies with 100 or more employees to either be vaccinated or undergo regular testing. However, federal courts have temporarily halted that plan ahead of the Jan. 4 deadline.
De Blasio stated that he believes his mandate would be upheld in court. Exemptions for religious or medical reasons will be available to employees.
The mayor stated that he will provide further information regarding how the mandate will be implemented next week.
Out of the 7 million persons aged 18 and above in New York City, about 5.9 million adults have received at least a first dosage. This equates to a whopping 84 percent. Approximately 5.8 million New Yorkers of all ages have received their complete vaccinations.
The omicron variety has been identified in around a third of the states, although experts are unsure whether it is more harmful than prior varieties.
Health officials in the United States have recommended individuals to get their injections and a booster, claiming that the vaccine will still provide protection against the new type.
The delta type still accounts for nearly all infections in the United States, and a surge of cases in recent weeks has flooded hospitals across the country, particularly in the Midwest and New England.
COVID-19 instances in New York City are averaging slightly under 2,000 per day, up from roughly 820 per day at the beginning of November.
“Vaccination is the most important tool in the fight against COVID. “It’s the one thing that has always worked across the board,” de Blasio said at a virtual press conference.
“A lot of people in the private sector have told me that they believe in immunization but don’t know how to do it themselves,” he stated. “All right, we’ll do it.”
In New York Public, vaccinations are already compulsory for hospital and nursing care staff, as well as city employees such as teachers, police officers, and firemen. Last week, a vaccine requirement for staff of private and religious institutions was announced.
Other private-sector workers, such as those who work in restaurants, gyms, theaters, and other entertainment venues, were also obliged to get vaccinated under the mayor’s prior restrictions.
De Blasio, who is set to leave office at the end of the month and has hinted that he may run for governor of New York next year, has attempted to present himself as a national leader in the battle against COVID-19. His other vaccine regulations have mostly been upheld in court, and he has praised the strategy with increasing immunization rates among the uninitiated.
The new mandate goes into effect only days before de Blasio leaves mayor and is replaced by Democrat Eric Adams. Adams’ spokesperson, Evan Thies, said in a statement that when he takes office, the mayor-elect “would assess this mandate and other COVID programs and make choices based on research, efficacy, and the opinion of health professionals.”
The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which represents 30,000 small and large firms, said it welcomes the tougher regulations.
Other industry organizations, on the other hand, claimed the idea would add to the pressure on firms that are still trying to recover from the epidemic and locate adequate workers.
According to Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, the requirement is unclear as to who would police it and if it is even lawful.
“It’s difficult to believe the mayor can do what the president is being asked to do,” Wylde added.