All private employers in New York City will have to demand their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor said on Monday, imposing one of the most aggressive vaccination rules in the country.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision comes as cases rise again in the United States and the disturbing omicron variant is gaining ground in New York and elsewhere in the country.
“We in New York decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the future growth of COVID and the dangers it poses to all of us,” he said.
De Blasio, a Democrat just weeks away from his tenure as the country’s largest city, said the term would go into effect on December 27.
Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he said the move was aimed at avoiding a spike in infections amid holiday gatherings and as cold weather pushes more people indoors, where the virus is. more likely to spread.
Vaccination mandates between states and cities vary widely, with some states resisting any mandate and others requiring vaccines for government employees or certain sectors that are at particularly high risk, such as healthcare workers.
But most officials haven’t announced mandates that go this far in the private sector, or mandates spanning so many people.
President Joe Biden has sought to impose a similar mandate nationwide, applying to companies with 100 or more workers, but federal courts have suspended that before the Jan. 4 deadline.
De Blasio has said he expects his new tenure to outlast any legal challenges. A spokesperson for the mayor said it would apply to about 184,000 businesses in the city, which has a population of 8.8 million.
Vaccinations are already compulsory for workers in hospitals and nursing homes and for city employees, including teachers, police and firefighters. A vaccination mandate for employees of private and religious schools was announced last week.
In addition, the mayor announced that anyone 12 years of age or older who wishes to dine indoors at a restaurant, go to a gymnasium or see a performance will need to produce proof of having received two shots of the vaccine, while the current requirement is one dose. In addition, proof of at least one shot will be required for children aged 5 to 11, de Blasio said.
De Blasio, who is stepping down at the end of the month and has indicated he could run for the governorship of New York next year, has sought to present himself as a national leader in the fight against COVID-19 .
The term takes effect a few days before de Blasio leaves office and Democrat Eric Adams is sworn in. Evan Thies, a spokesperson for Adams, said in a statement that the mayor-elect “will assess this tenure and other COVID strategies when he is in office and makes decisions based on science, effectiveness and advice from health professionals “.
Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island, who is pushing for the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination, called the newly announced vaccine requirement a “mandate to cut jobs and cut small businesses.”
“When you dangerously combine a lame, far-left duck politician, who is anti-business, one-dimensional, irresponsible, not brilliant, and has a perpetual ‘I always know better’ attitude,” you get Bill de Blasio, America’s worst mayor. Zeldin said in a statement.