NYC's COVID-19 vaccine mandate on hold until September 22

Coronavirus Update for New York City

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021
NYC's COVID-19 vaccine mandate on hold for now
The city's mandate is now on hold until the two sides can go to court on September 22, five days before the mandate is slated to take effect.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A New York State Supreme Court judge temporarily blocked New York City's vaccine mandate, but both sides are claiming victory after the ruling.

It came on the same day a federal judge upstate temporarily halted a vaccine mandate that applied to healthcare workers who sued over the right to a religious exemption.

The city's mandate is now on hold until the two sides can go to court on September 22, five days before the mandate is slated to take effect.

"While we do believe our members should get the vaccine, we do not believe it should be a condition of employment," said Henry Garrio, who heads the city's largest municipal union, AFSCME District Council 37. "Clearly, the courts agree. The fight is not over, but we are energized by this decision and ready to keep going on behalf of our members."

ALSO READ | Judge halts part of NY COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers

A temporary restraining order stops New York from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate if a health care worker claims a religious exemption.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city still plans on implementing its vaccine mandates on September 27, despite the temporary restraining order.

"It doesn't change our approach," the mayor said. "It's a very temporary action to get to the court date, where the actual case will be heard. We are very, very confident in our legal position. We are just continuing to build the framework for full implementation on the 27th."

Hundreds of people rallied against the city's mandate in Foley Square on Monday.

RELATED | NYC schools report 83 COVID cases as teachers protest vaccine mandate

Thirty-three cases have been reported among students and 50 among teachers.

Meanwhile, the heath care lawsuit accused Gov. Kathy Hochul's predecessor, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of running a "nearly 18-month-long medical dictatorship" and is laden with grievances about pandemic policies both in New York and outside the state.

"The same front line health care workers hailed as heroes by the media for treating COVID patients before vaccines were available, including the Plaintiffs herein, are now vilified by the same media as pariahs who must be excluded from society until they are vaccinated against their will," the lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs asserted the state's vaccine mandate resulted from "an atmosphere of fear and irrationality" and insisted the vaccines "violate their religiously beliefs, are clearly not as effective as promised, and have known and increasing evident risks of severe and even life-threatening side effects."

on Wednesday, Hochul said she believes vaccine mandates are smart, particularly for health care workers in New York.

"I'm not aware of a sanctioned religious exemption from any organized religion. In fact, they are encouraging the opposite. They are encouraging their members, everybody from the pope on down, is encouraging people to get vaccinated," Hochul said. "I will not let this be a problem for the state of New York."

Both of Tuesday's rulings -- halting vaccine mandates for city workers and state healthcare workers -- are temporary restraining orders.

A temporary restraining order is a common practice when a party goes to court claiming they have been injured, and the real test will come when these cases actually go to court.

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