New York City orders private sector workers to get vaccinated

The new policy is a 'pre-emptive strike' to stamp out further spread of COVID-19

New York City orders private sector workers to get vaccinated

Following the detection of the Omicron variant in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an expanded vaccination mandate for workers in the private sector that will take effect on December 17. Under the mandate, employees in the workplace with other co-workers should have their first jab by December 27. The policy is set to cover about 184,000 businesses, according to a media release. There will be no regular testing options for unvaccinated employees under the new policy, according to de Blasio, but the government would give medical and religious exemptions.

According to the city mayor, the new policy is a "pre-emptive strike" to stamp out the further spread of COVID-19.

"We've got Omicron as a new factor, we've got the colder weather, which is really going to create additional challenges with the Delta variant, we've got holiday gatherings," the mayor told MSNBC.

In addition to workers, children aged five to 11 years old starting December 14 will need to show proof of at least one vaccination dose in order to gain entry to indoor dining, fitness, entertainment and performance venue. They also need to be inoculated in order to join high-risk extracurricular activities. Starting December 27, on the other hand, those aged 12 and above must be able to show proof of full immunisation before gaining entry to the said businesses.

"New York City will not give a single inch in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe," said de Blasio in a statement.

The city said in a media release that additional information and guidance will be provided on December 15, including the support for small businesses to help them implement the new vaccine mandate. The announcement of the policy came after the halting of President Joe Biden's enforcement order on vaccinations for companies with over 100 staff. This is in order to comply to a court order that issued a stay due to "constitutional issues" with the mandate.

Will this affect NYC's vaccine policy? Georgia Pestana, the city’s corporation counsel, said it will not.

"The commissioner of health has the authority to issue a mandate like this to protect the public health and his authority to do that has been upheld time and again," said Pestana. "The trouble that the Biden administration has run into in court doesn’t really apply here."

New York City has administered over 12.5 million vaccine doses, according to a city news release. About 6.5 million New Yorkers received their first dose, while over 125,000 children aged five to 11 also got their first dose.

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