On 12/6/2021, Mayor De Blasio of New York City announced major changes regarding COVID-19 safety for local businesses. He referred to the pandemic in New York as an emergency given the city is challenged by three different waves at once:
increasing disease rates from the Delta strain,
the upcoming holiday season, and
the influx of the omicron variant.
Impact on All NYC Businesses
The new changes to NYC COVID-19 requirements are far stricter than the federal Biden mandates for business rules regarding COVID-19 safety.
All private sector employees of any size business are required to have at least one vaccine shot by December 27, 2021. Businesses with under 100 employees are required to comply with this regulation.
Weekly testing is not an option in lieu of being vaccinated - this is another departure from the federal requirements.
The new rules cover 184,000 New York City businesses and potentially millions of employees. Companies will need to manage vaccine status information for all employees in order to comply.
Impact on NYC Citizens
Mayor De Blasio also modified the existing rules for the “Key to NYC” campaign to mandate:
All adults seeking to use indoor dining, fitness, or entertainment facilities are required to have both vaccination shots for MRNA vaccines and 1 shot for the JNJ vaccine.
Children ages 5-11 are now required to have at least a single COVID-19 vaccine single shot by December 15, 2021 to participate in school bands or sports indoors.
The Reaction To the Mandate
The reaction was swift and diverse. Some cried that these regulations went too far while others decried them as not strict enough. Unvaccinated adults and parents of affected children declared that they did not have time to get themselves or their children vaccinated. Others pointed out that enforcement of these regulations was not described, and no fines were enunciated.
Mayor De Blasio is only in his office for 5 days after his mandates finalize on December 27, 2021 and Mayor-Elect Adams takes over. Politically minded individuals mused whether the current mayor was only creating these rules so he could gain momentum for a possible gubernatorial run.
Regardless of the potential benefits, motivation, or political consequences of these new rules, they are real and will be on the books as no legislation is needed for their implementation. NYC has to get ready!