Court allows New York to enforce vaccine mandate on health workers seeking religious exemption

Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The temporary restraining order preventing the state from enforcing its mandate on health care workers requesting religious exemptions has been lifted.

A federal appellate court sided with the State of New York, lifting the temporary restraining order and allowing the state to enforce the health care workers mandate.

The attorney representing three nurses challenging the mandate on religious beliefs is vowing to take the case to the Supreme Court.

"New York's mandate forces an abominable choice on New York healthcare workers: abandon their faith or lose their careers," attorneys said. "Diane Bono, Michelle Melendez, and Michelle Synakowski have refused to buy one-way tickets to hell on the hysteria express. They have committed their futures to God's hands, and we remain optimistic that the United States Supreme Court will strike down New York's discriminatory mandate as violating the First Amendment."

Gov. Kathy Hochul released the following statement:

"On Day One, I pledged as Governor to battle this pandemic and take bold action to protect the health of all New Yorkers. I commend the Second Circuit's findings affirming our first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate, and I will continue to do everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe."

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Friday night denied a request for an emergency injunction in a similar case in Maine, where health care workers challenged a vaccine mandate with no religious exemption.

Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Barrett and Kavanaugh sided with the court's three liberals in rejecting the application.

Barrett, in a nod to the public outcry over the court's "shadow docket," explained that she finds it imprudent to decide on a novel question "on a short fuse without benefit of full briefing and oral argument."

The court could still grant the case on the merits and take it up for further consideration.

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New York City announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all police officers, firefighters and city workers in an effort to boost lagging numbers in those agencies.

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