NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It is the first COVID vaccine mandate for the private sector in the nation, and the legal challenges will almost certainly outlast the remaining term of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
On Tuesday, a Staten Island-based lawyer said he will file a class action lawsuit on behalf of all unvaccinated workers across the city.
"We are going to be filing a class action lawsuit, we received dozens dozens of calls yesterday and dozens more today, on behalf of any employee," attorney Louis Gelormino said. "Anybody that works in NYC that has a job in NYC, this could be from 16 years old to 75 years old, anybody that works in NYC that doesn't want to get the vaccination, we are going to be filing a class action lawsuit on their behalf."
This new mandate, which the mayor announced on Monday, is scheduled to take effect just four days before he leaves office.
There are actually two key dates in the new measure.
The first, December 14, requires children ages 5 to 11 to show proof of one vaccine dose to get into places like restaurants, movie theaters and fitness centers.
Then on December 27, there are more sweeping changes. That is when everyone age 12 and up and all private sector workers who are not working remotely will need to show proof of full vaccination.
That will impact an estimated 184,000 businesses.
The city's vaccination rate is already close to 90%, one of the highest in the nation.
But with hospitalizations once again on the rise due to the delta variant - and the emergence of the new, apparently more contagious omicron variant - Mayor de Blasio is trying to put his stamp on the battle against COVID on his way out the door.
"I said from the very beginning, we will climb the ladder," the mayor said. "And when we did it worked. It's first in the nation. But I hope it will be emulated all over the country because it's time to get even tougher to end the COVID era. If we don't get tougher on vaccination, we're going to have COVID with us for a lot longer."
Critics, including City Council's Republican minority leader, Joe Borrelli, are calling the mandate illegal.
And Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who is vacationing in Ghana, has not said whether he plans to implement it.
"The mayor-elect will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office," spokesman Evan Thies said in statement.
"On the one hand you want people back in the office acting like life is normal, and on the other hand you're adding to the stress and uncertainty," said Kathryn Wylde from the nonprofit group Partnership for NYC. "Small businesses, in particular, are having difficulty getting people back to the workplace at all-with or without vaccinations."
Meantime New York Governor Kathy Hochul says the state now has 12 confirmed omicron cases. But it's the delta variant that's driving a new uptick in infections, clogging hospitals upstate.
Thirty-two of those facilities now have to temporarily stop performing elective surgeries due to staffing shortages.
None of the hospitals are in the NYC region. Twenty hospitals are in Western New York, Central New York, the North Country and Capital Region and 12 hospitals are in the in the Finger Lakes and Mohawk Valley.
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