NEW YORK (AP). All private employers in New York will have to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor said Monday, imposing one of the most aggressive vaccination rules in the country.
The move by Mayor Bill de Blasio is prompted by the rise in US cases again and as the worrisome omicron variant is becoming more popular in New York and other regions of the country.
“We in New York have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further rise of COVID and the dangers it poses to all of us,” he said.
De Blasio, a Democrat with only a few weeks left in power as leader of the country’s largest city, said the mandate will take effect on December 27.
Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, he said the move is aimed at preventing a spike in infections during holiday gatherings and as cold weather forces more people to stay indoors where the virus is more likely to spread.
Vaccination requirements vary widely across states and cities, with some states resisting any regulation, while others require vaccinations for government officials or certain sectors that are particularly at risk, such as healthcare workers.
But most officials have not announced mandates reaching the private sector or mandates reaching such a large number of people.
President Joe Biden tried to impose a similar mandate at the national level by reaching out to companies with 100 or more employees, but federal courts delayed it until the January 4 deadline.
De Blasio said he expects his new mandate to survive any legal disputes. The mayor’s spokesman said it would apply to approximately 184,000 businesses in the city of 8.8 million.
Vaccinations are already needed for hospital and nursing home workers, as well as city officials, including teachers, police officers and firefighters. A mandate was announced last week to vaccinate staff at private and religious schools.
In addition, the mayor announced that anyone 12 years of age or older wishing to dine in an indoor restaurant, go to the gym or watch a show will need to provide proof of having received two shots of the vaccine compared to current requirements for one dose. In addition, according to de Blasio, confirmation of at least one shot will be required from children between the ages of 5 and 11.
De Blasio, who is leaving office at the end of the month and said he could pursue a candidacy for New York’s governor next year, has tried to portray himself as a national leader in the fight against COVID-19.
The mandate takes effect a few days before de Blasio leaves office and Democrat Eric Adams is set to take office. Evan Tees, a spokesman for Adams, said in a statement that the mayor-elect “will assess this mandate and other COVID strategies while in office and make decisions based on scientific evidence, effectiveness and advice from health professionals.”
Long Island Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is pushing for the GOP nomination for governor, called the recently announced vaccine demand “a punishment that kills jobs and stifles small businesses.”
“When you dangerously combine a far-left, lame duckling politician who is anti-business, one-dimensional, inexplicable, stupid and constantly adheres to the position of“ I always know best ”, you get Bill de Blasio, the worst mayor. in America, “Zeldin said in a statement.
This story has been corrected to reflect the December 27th mandate deadline.