NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City is lifting its private sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate on November 1, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday.
It will now be up to individual business owners to decide if they want to maintain a vaccine requirement.
"This puts the choice in the hands of New York businesses," Adams said. "It is imperative that we are asking them to continue to encourage their employees to get their vaccines and booster shots."
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch was among those quick to criticize the city.
"This announcement is more proof that the vaccine mandate for New York City police officers is arbitrary, capricious, and fundamentally irrational," he said. "Now that the city has abandoned any pretense of a public health justification for vaccine mandates, we expect it to settle our pending lawsuits and reinstate with back pay our members who unjustly lost their jobs."
The Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association president, who is also chair of the Municipal Labor Committee, also called for an end to the mandate for the public sector.
"It's appalling that the city is now creating a three tier system, originally exempting the elite, now one for the private sector and still nothing for the essential workers of our city," Harry Nespoli said. "It's long past time that the city drop the vaccine mandate for all public sector workers. How can the city leave behind the very people they mandated to come in every day without vaccines to keep things running when everything was shut down? The city workers demand that our mandate be dropped immediately and get our workers back to work."
Detectives' Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo said he will be in court on Wednesday.
"Today's City Hall announcement dropping the vaccine mandate for only the private sector workforce is irrational pseudoscience," he said. "Let's be real, the mayor knows that people are aren't avoiding the return to their office because of the mandate. It's fear of the city's crime crisis. Based on this arbitrary decision, the union will be in court tomorrow and expects to have our highly-experienced Detectives, who were unjustly cast aside, reinstated and reimbursed."
Also weighing was Nets star Kyrie Irving, who tweeted, "If I can work and be unvaccinated, then all of my brothers and sisters who are also unvaccinated should be able to do the same, without being discriminated against, vilified, or fired."
The city is also lifting the vaccination requirement for public school students to participate in sports and extra curricular activities.
Adams said 89% of New Yorkers, including children, have had at least their first vaccination dose.
"Because we've been so successful, it's time to move to the next level of fortifying our city," Adams said.
At the same time, Adams and Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan announced a new city-wide vaccination drive promoting booster shots.
Adams received his own booster Tuesday.
"I'm thrilled to roll up my sleeve and get boosted and encourage all eligible New Yorkers to do the same," Adams said. "The new bivalent booster is here, providing better protection against variants we are seeing now and quite likely against variants in the future as well."
In the next week, print, television, radio, and digital ads will go live across New York City promoting booster shots.
With the recent rollout of bivalent booster shots by the FDA, the new campaign will encourage all eligible New Yorkers to get their booster shot for an added layer of protection for themselves and those around them.
In addition to promotion of COVID-19 booster shots, the campaign being launched in the next week will promote other annual vaccinations.
The updated bivalent COVID-19 boosters are more effective at protecting against the latest variants and are recommended for all New Yorkers ages 12 and up whose last COVID-19 vaccination was more than two months ago.
New Yorkers can check with their providers to see if they are offering updated boosters or search NYC Vaccine Finder online for locations offering booster shots.
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