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New York City is first in nation to impose COVID vaccine mandate on private sector employers

NYC announces new vaccine mandate
NYC announces new vaccine mandate 03:22

Employers in New York City must require COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers under new rules announced Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio. This is the first-of-its-kind mandate for private-sector employees, CBS New York reports.

The vaccine mandate for private businesses is aimed at preventing a spike in COVID-19 infections during the holiday season and the colder months, the mayor said.

"This is how we put health and safety first by ensuring there is a vaccine mandate that reaches everyone universally in the private sector," de Blasio said. "We're going to do this so that every employer is on a level playing field, one universal standard."

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said while the city is monitoring the Omicron variantDelta cases have been going up in every borough since early November.

"Vaccines work, and vaccine mandates work, particularly when joined with efforts to build vaccine confidence, provide incentives, and improve access, as we have in New York City," he added. "We've seen this with our health care workers, school staff and public employees. Now it's time for the private sector to step up and follow suit."

The mayor said the city will release specific rules on December 15, before the mandate takes effect December 27.

According to Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the city council's health committee, there will be a weekly testing option.

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

The city was moving to impose the mandate on private sector businesses even as federal courts have temporarily blocked an attempt by President Joe Biden to do the same nationally for larger companies.

De Blasio said he expects the new mandate to survive any legal challenges. A spokesperson for the mayor said the private sector mandate will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses.

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

De Blasio, who will leave office at the end of the month and has indicated he may seek the Democratic nomination for governor of New York next year, has sought to portray himself as a national leader in the fight against COVID-19.

Republican Representative Lee Zeldin of Long Island, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, called the newly announced vaccine requirement a "job killing, small business-suppressing mandate."

"When you dangerously combine a far-left, lame duck politician, who is anti-business, one-dimensional, unaccountable, not bright and has a perpetual 'I always know best' attitude,' you get Bill de Blasio, the Worst Mayor in America," Zeldin said in a statement.

Kathryn Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City, told The New York Times that her business group was "blindsided" by the announcement.

"There's no forewarning, no discussion, no idea about whether it's legal or who he expects to enforce it," Wylde said.

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