NYC announces new vaccine mandate for all private sector employers

All New York City employers will have to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their in-person workers under new rules announced Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The vaccine mandate for private businesses will take effect Dec. 27 and is aimed at preventing a spike in COVID-19 infections during the holiday season and the colder months. It does not apply to state entities.

"We are going to be working with businesses all over the city and that's almost 200,000 businesses that are not already covered by the Key to NYC guidelines right now," said de Blasio from City Hall. "We are going to be talking to them in the next days on how to put together the right plan to implement this. The specific guidance, the specific rules will come out Dec. 15."

The new guidance would be the most aggressive in the nation.

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"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 first announced during MSNBC's "Morning Joe." 

Vaccinations are already required for city employees including teachers, police officers and firefighters, and a vaccination mandate for employees of private and religious schools was announced last week.

"We've been living with this now for most of two years. We got to put it behind us and vaccine mandates in my experience are the one thing that really breaks through. And we do know this, vaccines every single time, you know, every single time there's a fear of the vaccine won't have an impact on a new variant. Well, guess what? Every single time the vaccines have worked. That's a good track record. Let's lean into it even more," said de Blasio.

The mayor added that he expects the new mandate to survive any legal challenges. The mandate will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses in the city, which has a population of 8.8 million. 

"Even before omicron becomes more common we have seen case numbers grow in recent weeks due to delta, the devil we know," said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. David Chockshi. "They have more than doubled since a recent low point in early November, increasing in every borough in every age group."

Current New York City COVID-19 rules also include at least one vaccine dose for indoor restaurant dining, entertainment venues and fitness centers. Under new mandates for indoor dining, entertainment and gyms, two shots will be required for people over 12. One shot will be required for children aged 5 to 11, who are not covered by the current mandate, de Blasio said.

With The Associated Press.