Friday, December 9

New York Makes COVID Vaccines Mandatory for Private Sector

From the big Wall Street banks to corner grocery stores, every private employer in New York City will be required to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning December 27.

The order goes beyond a national mandate set by President Joe Biden for companies with more than 100 employees to vaccinate workers by January 4 that has been stalled by court suspensions.

“Starting today we are going to announce a first nationwide measure: Our health commissioner will announce a vaccine mandate for private sector employers across the board,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“This is how we put health and safety first, by making sure there is a vaccine mandate that reaches everyone universally in the private sector.”

Vaccinations are already required for city employees, including teachers, police officers and firefighters, and a vaccination mandate was announced last week for employees of private and religious schools.

Vaccine mandates have a long history in the US, but have generally been issued by cities or states.

De Blasio cited the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the cold winter and Christmas gatherings as “additional challenges” in tackling the pandemic in New York, which was hit hard by the virus in 2020, with at least 34,000 deaths.

New York City averages just under 2,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, up from 820 per day in early November.

Cases of Omicron have been confirmed in at least 15 US states since it was first reported in late November, including several in New York, and de Blasio said he was “very concerned.”

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“In New York City we have decided to use a preemptive strike to do something really bold to stop the growth of COVID and the dangers it is causing us all,” he said.

In addition to the mandate, which would encompass some 184,000 businesses and companies, he said there will be other measures to “focus on maximizing vaccination quickly so that we can stay ahead of Omicron and all the other challenges that we face right now with COVID-19.” .

The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which includes some 30,000 businesses large and small, said it supports the stricter measures.

“This is for public health and safety to keep the economy growing, so tourists feel safe when they come here,” said Mark Jaffe, president of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce.

“We don’t want to be a headline ‘New York City is leading the nation in COVID,’ we don’t want to lead the nation in COVID rates, and this is an important step.”

But other industry groups said the plan would increase pressure on companies still struggling to recover from the pandemic and find enough employees.

However, de Blasio said he hopes the new mandate will survive any legal challenges, adding that he will release more details next week on how the mandate will be enforced.

US health experts have strongly urged people to get their vaccinations and a booster, saying they believe the vaccine will continue to offer protection against the new variant.

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