Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a sweeping COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine mandate for all personal employers in New York City on Monday morning to fight the unfold of the Omicron variant.
Mr. de Blasio mentioned the aggressive measure, which takes impact Dec. 27 and which he described as the primary of its variety within the nation, was wanted as a “pre-emptive strike” to stall one other wave of COVID-19 coronavirus circumstances and assist cut back transmission through the winter months and vacation gatherings.
“Omicron is here, and it looks like it’s very transmissible,” he mentioned in an interview on MSNBC. “The timing is horrible with the winter months.”
New York City has already put vaccine mandates in place for metropolis staff and for workers and clients at indoor eating, leisure and gymnasiums. Nearly 90 p.c of grownup New York City residents now have at the very least one dose of the vaccine.
But Mr. de Blasio mentioned town should go additional to fight one other wave of the virus in New York City, as soon as the middle of the pandemic. Some personal employers have required staff to get vaccinated, however many others haven’t.
Mr. de Blasio mentioned the brand new measure would apply to about 184,000 companies. Employees who work in-person at personal corporations should have one dose of the vaccine by Dec. 27; distant staff won’t be required to get the vaccine. There is not any testing possibility as a substitute.
The metropolis plans to supply exemptions for legitimate medical or spiritual causes, Mr. de Blasio mentioned. City officers will launch detailed pointers about points like enforcement by Dec. 15 after consulting with enterprise leaders.
The mayor additionally introduced that the foundations for eating and leisure would apply to youngsters ages 5 to 11, who should have one dose to enter eating places and theaters beginning on Dec. 14, and that the requirement for adults would enhance from one dose of a vaccine to 2 beginning on Dec. 27, besides for individuals who initially acquired the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Kathy Hochul held a information convention final Thursday to announce New York State’s first 5 circumstances of the Omicron variant, and a number of other extra have been introduced in New York City since then. The variety of COVID-19 coronavirus circumstances within the metropolis has elevated quickly in latest weeks; day by day case counts have elevated greater than 75 p.c since Nov. 1.
Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat with lower than a month left in workplace, mentioned he was assured the brand new mandate would survive any authorized challenges and he famous that previous metropolis mandates had been upheld.
“They have won in court — state court, federal court — every single time,” the mayor mentioned on MSNBC. “And it’s because they’re universal and consistent.”
Eric Adams, the mayor-elect who takes workplace on Jan. 1, is on trip in Ghana this week. His spokesman, Evan Thies, mentioned in a press release that Mr. Adams would consider the measure as soon as he’s mayor.
“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,” he mentioned.
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Biden’s winter Covid plan. As Omicron reached the U.S., President Biden introduced a brand new pandemic technique that features tons of of family-centered vaccination websites, booster pictures for all adults, new testing necessities for worldwide vacationers and insurance coverage reimbursement for at-home assessments.
The Biden administration tried to set a federal mandate that each one giant employers should require staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing beginning in January, however that measure is stalled in court docket.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, issued an “emergency” rule earlier this month requiring vaccinations for workers of corporations with at the very least 100 staff, though it exempts those that work from home or solely open air.
Georgia M. Pestana, New York City’s company counsel, mentioned at a information convention on Monday that town’s well being commissioner clearly has the authorized authority to challenge a mandate to guard New Yorkers throughout a well being disaster. She argued that the authorized questions over the Biden administration’s mandate had been totally different and centered on whether or not OSHA had the correct authority.
Kathryn Wylde, the president of a outstanding enterprise group, the Partnership for New York City, mentioned she was stunned by the announcement by Mr. de Blasio.
“We were blindsided,” she mentioned. “There’s no forewarning, no discussion, no idea about whether it’s legal or who he expects to enforce it.”
Roughly half of Manhattan workplace employers have enacted vaccine mandates, she mentioned, although some insurance policies embody testing choices and medical and spiritual exemptions.
Many questions stay in regards to the Omicron variant. Some early indicators exist that it might trigger solely gentle sickness, although that remark was primarily based primarily on circumstances in South Africa amongst younger individuals, who’re usually much less more likely to turn into severely sick from Covid. Scientists are additionally ready to see whether or not circumstances result in substantial hospitalizations and deaths; each are lagging indicators.
And in the intervening time, scientists say there is no such thing as a motive to imagine Omicron is impervious to current vaccines, though they could become much less protecting to some unknown diploma.