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New York City ends COVID vaccine mandate for private sector workers

NYC ends private sector COVID vaccine mandate
NYC ends private sector COVID vaccine mandate 01:57

NEW YORK -- Starting Tuesday, private employers can decide whether to require employees to be vaccinated.

As CBS2's Jessica Moore reported, this could open the door for city employees to win their ongoing fight for the same rights.

People who work at private businesses and students who want to take part in extra-curricular activities like sports no longer need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"New Yorkers are ready to move on," said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for NYC.

Many employees have been working remotely for two and a half years, and employers are ready to get back to business as usual.

"Honestly, when you have mask mandates, social distancing, regular testing to get in office and vaccine mandate, all of that perpetuated the anxiety of the pandemic and we're so over it," Wylde said.

How ending NYC vaccine mandate will impact economy 04:11

Wylde says roughly 50 percent of workers in the city are back in the office on an average weekday, and lifting the mandate will drive that number even higher.

Many believe the mandate should also be lifted for all city employees.

"Nurses, frontline workers, need to be rehired and payed back," Manhattan resident Steve Yesko said.

"I don't think it's fair. It should be for all. Everyone who didn't take the vaccine during the beginning of the pandemic should be back to work. The Police Department and Fire Department, it's like creating a tale of two different cities," Manhattan resident Keith Thompson added.

In a reprieve for some city workers, the Manhattan Supreme Court ordered members of the Police Benevolent Association, who were either fired or put on unpaid leave over refusing to get the shot, be reinstated.

But not everyone agrees that unvaccinated workers should be allowed back into crowded office buildings.

"It's important that everyone is aware that the shots are good for you. You should be taking the shot. There's a lot of public awareness and people really should do the responsible thing," Manhattan resident Philip Petrosky said.

"By them lifting the mandate, they're just lifting requirement, but private employers can still implement the mandate on their own," employment attorney Jon Bell said, adding when asked if he sees that happening, "It could happen, but, overall, no."

Bell represented employees who felt they should be exempt because of religious or medical reasons. He says unvaccinated city workers like firefighters and sanitation employees now have ammunition in their fight to return to work.

"What Mayor Adams is essentially saying is, I'm the employer for the city of New York. It's in my right as the employer to mandate the vaccine," Bell said. "I think the public sector is going to use this distinction to justify their cause that they should be allowed to return to work with back pay."

For now, the mayor says the mandate for city workers will not change.

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