COVID vaccine mandate announced for NYC private-sector workers, new requirements for kids

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Sweeping vaccine mandate announced for NYC private-sector workers
Jim Dolan has more on the sweeping vaccine mandate announced Monday for all private-sector employees in New York City.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a COVID vaccine mandate for all private-sector employers across the board in New York City.

The mandate is set to begin on December 27.

The mayor called it a proactive, "First in the nation measure."

"New York City will not give a single inch in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe," Mayor de Blasio said. "From workplace mandates, to $100 incentives, to mobile and at-home vaccination offerings, no place in the nation has done more to end the COVID era. And if you have not taken this step yet: there's no better day than today to stand up for your city."

WATCH: Mayor de Blasio details new private sector vax mandate

Raw video: Mayor Bill de Blasio details a new COVID vaccine mandate for all private-sector employers across the board in New York City.

In addition, de Blasio said there will also be required vaccine proof for indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment for children 5 to 11, starting December 14.

The mayor said it was an important push to get the vaccination number up for kids in that age group, which is now just 20%.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a COVID vaccine mandate for all private-sector employers across the board in New York City.

"A lot of parents want to take their kids out to wonderful things happening in the holiday season. Here's a reminder, get your child vaccinated. One dose will immediately qualify a child in any of those activities. I'm a parent, I remember vividly when my kids were going to school. You don't end up in the situation where a child is left unprotected. I urge parents really strongly get that vaccination. It's safe, it's proven. Here's another incentive to do it," Mayor de Blasio said.

Indoor activities also now require two vaccine doses, up from one for people ages 12 and up.

WATCH: Mayor outlines mandate updates for NYC kids

Raw video: Mayor Bill de Blasio outlines what he calls an important new push to get the vaccination numbers up for kids 5-11 years old.

He also announced 5-to-11-year-old children will be required to get vaccinated to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities. These activities include sports, band, orchestra, and dance. This requirement for the initial vaccine dose will take effect on December 14th.

"We are under attack from the coronavirus. We've got omicron as a new factor, colder weather, which is really going to create additional challenges with the delta variant. We've got holiday gatherings. 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 causes to all of us," Mayor de Blasio said.

De Blasio said he spoke with incoming mayor Eric Adams about his new private-sector vaccination policy, but a spokesperson for Adams delined to commit to the new policy. "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," spokesperson Evan Thies said.

The mayor said he also spoke with Governor Kathy Hochul, who has generally indicated she wants local leaders to make their own decisions, but the mandate will not apply to state employees working in New York City, like SUNY and the MTA..

He added that he did not anticipate legal challenges.

"We are confident because its universal. Our health commissioner has put a series of mandates in place. They have won in court, state court, federal court, every single time. It's because they are universal and consistent and protect people right now from a clear and present danger," he said.

But, just a short time later, Kathryn Wylde, CEO of the Partnership for New York City, says members of the city's business community were just learning of the mandate from the media.

She believes it is not enforceable and says it will be challenged in court.

Wylde noted enforcement of the Biden administration's vaccination or test mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees is on hold pending court review.

She said the mayor instituting a stricter policy, three days before he leaves office, "reinforces the inconsistency in the policy, which is the last thing we need right now."

Meantime, Mayor de Blasio said that two years was long enough to be living with the COVID pandemic.

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

The city says it will issue additional enforcement and reasonable accommodation guidance on December 15, along with additional resources to support small businesses with implementation.

Acceptable proof of vaccination includes a CDC issued vaccination card, the New York State Excelsior Pass, the Clear Health Pass, and the NYC COVID Safe App.

The expansions follow recently announced vaccination mandates for city employees, childcare providers, and non-public school employees. Ninety-four percent of the city workforce is vaccinated.

New York City has administered over 12.5 million vaccination doses. Nearly 6.5 million New Yorkers - including 89% of adults - have received at least one dose. More than 125,000 children aged 5-11 have already received at least one dose, according to the city's data.

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