All private sector employers in New York City will now be required to get a Covid-19 vaccine mandate by December 27, according to the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio. This means everyone who works in the city will now be subject to a vaccine mandate, whether or not they are in the private business sector. Children, ages 5 – 11 in New York will now also be required to show proof of at least one shot before being allowed access to indoor dining, fitness or entertainment, the mayor announced. Adults will now be required to show proof of two vaccinations for those areas. All of this basically means that unless you get the vaccine, you might as well stay home in NYC because you won’t be allowed… well, anywhere. Many city officials say this is to keep everyone safe, and prevent cases from rising. Will this mandate actually do that? Or, will this mandate cause the labor shortages to slide down even farther?
Why Is NYC Making Vaccines Mandatory?
De Blasio said the need for this new vaccine mandate is due to the potential for additional cases, emergence of the Omicron variant, and the coming of cold weather forcing people to congregate inside more frequently. At a press conference, de Blasio said, “the more universal they [the mandates] are, the more likely employees will say okay, it’s time. I’m going to do this. Because you can’t jump from one industry to another or one company to another. It’s something that needs to be universal to protect all of us.” According to de Blasio, what they really don’t want to see is the kind of spike in cases that requires a shutdown or stay-at-home orders now being put in place in parts of Europe. “We need to take very bold action. We’re seeing restrictions starting to come back. We’re seeing shutdowns,” he said. “We can not let those restrictions come back. We can not have shutdowns in New York. Our health care leadership was adamant that this was a step we could and must take,” he said. “We know from extensive conversations over months with private sector employers what their concerns are. The number one thing I’ve heard … is that we must avert shutdowns.”
Will NYC Vaccine Mandate Hold up in Court?
The mayor is confident the mandates will hold up in court. “Our health commissioner has put a series of mandates in place. They have won in court, state court, federal court every single time. And it’s because they’re universal and consistent. And they’re about protecting the public right now from a clear and present danger,” de Blasio said. However, in instances such as the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more workers, the mandate has been held up by court challenges. Many major employers, including some Wall Street banks and tech companies with offices in the city, already have their own vaccine mandates in place. Other business leaders are concerned about navigating the maze of federal, state and city health policies. For instance, unlike the city, New York State does not have a vaccine mandate for private employers.
Details about how the rules will apply to businesses are due to be announced December 15. The rules will not allow employees to opt out of vaccination through regular testing, as a proposed federal mandate for employers with 100 or more workers will do. The vaccine mandate rules will require workers to have at least one vaccination dose by the December 27 deadline.The penalty that will be imposed on businesses that do not enforce the mandate were not disclosed. “It is part of life that there have to be some consequences,” de Blasio said. “We’ll figure out what makes sense between now and December 15.”
Business Owners Angry Over Vaccine Mandate
The announcement of the new vaccine mandate caught business leaders off guard. “We had no heads up,” Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, told CNN. Wylde said she was “surprised” to learn about the new health restrictions through the media. “It’s unclear if the city has authority to issue such a mandate,” Wylde said, adding that “Employers do not want to be enforcement agents.” Wylde said there is concern over a lack of coordination for federal, state and city health policies. “Public health protocols generally, and vaccine mandates, should be coordinated and consistent with each other,” Wylde said. De Blasio claims the businesses he spoke to about Covid were supportive of the new vaccine mandate. “I’ve heard from so many business leaders, including in those sectors, like finance and tech, that the best thing for them is for the government to lead the way,” he said. “It’s always better for the private sector if the government sets a single, universal standard, so they don’t have to … say to their employees, ‘Hey, this is something we’re going to do on our own.”
Will New NYC Mayor Keep New Vaccine Mandate?
The mandate itself will begin only four days before the end of de Blasio’s eight-year term in office. Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who is currently traveling outside the country. Adams will take office on Jan. 1 about a week after the vaccine mandate is set to go into effect. De Blasio told reporters that he had spoken to Adams, and although he said he would not speak for Adams, he’s confident that the new mayor wants to follow the advice of medical professionals and keep the vaccine mandate in place. “In every conversation we’ve had about fighting Covid, he’s been really consistent on the point that he is feeling urgency, about these new threats, and that he understands my job is to keep New Yorkers safe until Dec. 31,” he said. “I feel very, very good about the conversations we’ve had.” And he said that the medical professionals he has spoken to are united in the need to increase the rate of vaccination, and their belief that a vaccine mandate will work to do that. De Blasio may be confident the new NYC mayor will keep this mandate but Adam’s spokesman said that the mayor-elect would evaluate the measure once he takes office.
Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown law professor who specializes in public health, said “New York City has considerable home rule and very broad public health powers, but Mr. de Blasio did not get specific authorization from the City Council to enact the mandate, and an inevitable avalanche of legal challenges could argue that the mayor is overstepping.” A group of retailers pushing back against the mandate cited labor shortages in their opposition. A survey of employers last month found that a number of respondents with vaccine mandates had seen a surge in resignations. This is likely due to the fact that some people don’t wish to be vaccinated, (as is their right) so they leave their current job for a company with relaxed regulations, that won’t force them into making medical decisions against their will. What were months and millions of dollars in incentive payments for if de Blasio’s end game was just to require everyone get vaccinated? If you were mayor-elect Adams, would you ax this new mandate once you were sworn into office?
Written by: Erinn Malloy