Photo of NYC vaccine hub, The Jefferson by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday announced a new coronavirus vaccination mandate for all private-sector employers in New York City, described as a “preemptive strike” to stop the spread of the Omicron variant. The city has already put in place a vaccine mandate for all city workers and for most indoor activities. The new mandate, considered to be a first in the United States, goes into effect on December 27.
“We’ve got Omicron as a new factor. We’ve got colder weather that’s going to really create additional challenges with the Delta variant. We’ve got holiday gatherings,” de Blasio said during an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday.
“We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further spread of Covid and the dangers it’s causing to all of us.”
De Blasio said the city will “work with the business community,” with more guidance about enforcement expected on December 15.
According to the city, the mandate will apply to 184,000 businesses.
New York City’s next mayor, Eric Adams, takes office on January 1. In response to the private employer mandate, Adams adviser Evan Thies said in a statement to Politico: “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 mayor also announced changes to the city’s “Key to NYC” policy, which requires proof of vaccination for indoor activities across the city. Starting December 14, the policy will apply to children aged 5 to 11 years old. For everyone aged 12 and up, the requirement for indoor dining and entertainment will increase from one dose of the vaccine to two doses starting on December 27, except for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“At this point, Omicron is here. It looks like it’s very transmissible,” de Blasio said on Monday. “That’s just going to make a tough situation, even harder. The timing is horrible with the winter months.”
Last week, the first cases of the Omicron variant were detected in New York, with seven of eight cases from New York City.
As of Monday, roughly 70 percent of all New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, with about 78 percent receiving at least one dose. And 94 percent of the city’s workforce is vaccinated, according to the city.
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