MANHATTAN, NY – In his final days in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that all private businesses in New York City, regardless of size, must now require all of their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – with no option to opt-out in favor of weekly testing – representing the strictest mandate against the virus yet out of any U.S. city or state.
All employees of any private NYC-based business must be able to prove they have received at least their first dose of vaccine by December 27, with Mayor de Blasio explaining the hardline measure as wanting to get the jump on the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 before it starts to spread.
“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,” he said.
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The mandate covers 3.7 million employees in 184,000 businesses that were previously exempt from vaccination requirements; anyone from stock brokers to corner bodega workers are now decreed to be inoculated against COVID-19, without any option to opt-out in favor of being tested weekly for the virus. Workers can still apply for religious or medical exemptions, however.
De Blasio, a Democrat, stated that he expects the mandate to survive any legal challenges.
In addition to new vaccination requirements for private businesses, Mayor de Blasio has also tightened the already strict mandates on gyms, restaurants, and entertainment venues; going forward, anyone over the age of 12 must provide proof of having received two doses of vaccine in order to enter any of the aforementioned establishments, as opposed to the previous requirement of at least one.
This new rule, Mayor de Blasio said, was in anticipation of COVID infection spikes due to holiday gatherings and cold winter weather driving more people indoors.
There have been many business mandates relating to COVID vaccination across the country on the city, state, and federal level; President Joe Biden had previously issued a national mandate covering businesses with 100 or more employees which currently has been blocked by federal courts, pending further litigation.
However, the new requirement issued by New York City this week represents the most draconian business-related vaccination mandate yet.
Mayor de Blasio’s successor, Democrat Eric Adams, is due to be sworn in to office on January 1. It is currently unknown whether or not he will uphold his predecessor’s new vaccination mandates.