Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that all private-sector employees in New York City will be required to be vaccinated against COVID by the end of this month, a shock to those employers who would bear the brunt of the policy and were given no details on how it would be enforced.
The move comes as part of a sweeping new set of vaccine mandates that de Blasio has sought to implement during his final days in office, ahead of his expected bid to be the state’s next governor. De Blasio’s order would also require children ages 5 to 11 to show proof of at least one vaccine dose at venues for indoor dining, entertainment, or fitness starting on December 14. The policy will oblige New Yorkers 12 and older to show proof of two doses of the vaccine, rather than the previously allowed one dose, reflecting new guidance that all adults get booster shots.
The mayor revealed his surprise on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, citing the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which has already been detected in New York City. “We’ve got Omicron as a new factor. We’ve got the colder weather, which is going to really create additional challenges with the Delta variant. We’ve got holiday gatherings. We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio did not offer any details about as to how the approximately 184,000 businesses would implement the new mandate; further information won’t be released until December 15, following conversations with the business community, according to City Hall.
“It’s pure politics. There’s no practical way that the mayor’s directive is helpful or achievable,” Kathy Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, which represents city business leaders and employers, told Intelligencer. Wylde said there was no indication that this move was coming and that it’s not clear how de Blasio expects all unvaccinated workers to have a first dose by the required deadline of December 27. “If the mayor’s looking for cooperation with the business community on maximizing vaccination, that takes a collaboration, and that just hasn’t taken place,” she said.
The mandate is slated to go into effect just five days before Eric Adams takes office as the city’s next mayor. When asked about the timing during a morning press conference, de Blasio said he had spoken to Adams last Friday and advised him of his plans. Evan Thies, a spokesman for Adams, said in a statement, “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.”