New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sweeping mandate requiring nearly all private-sector businesses to ban unvaccinated employees from the workplace has taken effect amid a spike in coronavirus infections.
Workers at roughly 184,000 businesses were required to show proof they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine starting on Monday, just days before de Blasio leaves office.
‘Today, a historic day for New York City, we’re implementing the strongest vaccine mandate in the country,’ de Blasio boasted in an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe, as he hinted at a possible run for governor.
‘All private sector employers today. This is what we need to do everywhere. Everywhere, every governor, every CEO in the United States should do vaccine mandates — 2022 has to be the year we fix COVID,’ he continued
‘Today, a historic day for New York City, we’re implementing the strongest vaccine mandate in the country,’ de Blasio boasted in an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe
A sign is viewed at a restaurant in New York’s Upper West Side in August. Vaccines are already required in restaurants, and now office workers must have the shots to go to work
The sweeping order provoked the ire of de Blasio’s successor, Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who called the 11th-hour imposition of the rule a ‘big eff you’ to his incoming administration
The new rules raise concerns of further worker shortages, even as scores of businesses in the city shutter due to staff outbreaks or exposure.
Businesses that don’t comply could face fines starting at $1,000 under the order, but de Blasio has said imposing penalties will be a last resort.
The sweeping order provoked the ire of de Blasio’s successor, Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who takes office on January 1 and called the 11th-hour imposition of the rule a ‘big eff you’ to his incoming administration.
‘I think for the outgoing mayor to announce something like this knowing that the implementation and enforcement would entirely be the responsibility of the next mayor is a real big eff you,’ a spokesperson for Adams told the New York Post earlier this month.
Under the new rules employers have to verify and keep a record of each worker’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Workers who have only received one shot will have to get a second one within 45 days.
Companies must display a sign affirming they are complying with the rule ‘in a conspicuous location,’ under the city’s mandate.
It comes as New York is once again the epicenter of infection, with 26,737 new COVID cases reported across the state on Monday.
There were also 5,526 current hospitalizations statewide, the highest figure since February but still well below the peak of more than 7,000 last spring.
Nevertheless, de Blasio is adamant that his New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square will go forward, though he has reduced the capacity for the bash marking the final night of his eight-year reign.
This year, the city will allow only about a third of the usual number of partygoers inside the dozens of fenced-out viewing areas set up in the square, allowing for greater social distancing.
Partygoers will have to show proof of full vaccination and wear masks.
‘Normally hosting approximately 58,000 people in viewing areas, this year’s celebration will host approximately 15,000 people,’ de Blasio said in a statement.
The 2022 sign that will be lit on top of a building on New Year’s Eve is displayed in Times Square on Monday. De Blasio is adamant that his celebration in Times Square will go forward
In addition, admission to the viewing areas will begin at about 3pm, later than in past years.
Last year, when COVID-19 vaccines were in the early stages of rolling out, the celebration was open to only a handful of invited guests, including essential workers and their families.
De Blasio is widely expected to announce a run for New York governor, challenging incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul in next year’s election.
In his MSNBC interview on Monday, de Blasio played coy, saying he would announce his plans ‘real, real soon.’
‘I’ve got one more week, and I’m going to focus on fighting COVID,’ he said. ‘And I’m happy to say, by the way, we did a booster incentive, and it has been heard and felt by the people of New York City since I announced it,’ he added. ‘180,000 more New Yorkers have gotten a booster since Tuesday. Almost 2 million overall.’