With a new COVID variant emerging and COVID cases beginning to spike as winter sets in, New York City has expanded their vaccine mandates to include private sector New York Businesses.
In recent weeks, New York has seen a serious uptick in the number of COVID confirmed cases, with over 12,000 new Covid cases reported on December 13th alone. Further worrying the city, a convention attendee came down with the new Omicron variant, forcing them to contact trace 20,000 attendees. With this report and the increasing spikes in cases and hospitalizations, outgoing New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio has ordered more mandates hoping to avoid the lockdowns that shattered the New York City economy over the past two years.
The previous mandates targeted the public sector such as the Fire Department, schools and others that were under the direction of the municipal government. In this new mandate, any private sector employers that does not have a mandate by now, must have one by December 27 for their employees. In explaining this, Mayor De Blasio said to reporters, ““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,” de Blasio told MSNBC earlier Monday morning. “We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of Covid and the dangers it’s causing to all of us.” In addition, they have mandated that anyone over 12 years old, who wants to go into public places to be required get two shots, with those ages 5-11 requiring only proof of one shot.
There is some hesitation with these mandates as the Federal mandate pushed by President Joe Biden was blocked by the Fifth District Court, claiming it is unconstitutional. However, there are assurances that this local mandate will hold up to any court-based challenge. “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,” Georgia Pestana, the city’s corporation counsel, said during the news conference with de Blasio. “The trouble that the Biden administration has run into in court doesn’t really apply here.(1) The block at the Federal level has more to do with Federal Government versus states’ rights than the mandate itself. As evident by the Supreme Court, they have already upheld one vaccine mandate ruling concerning healthcare workers in New York City.
With the new mandate being thrust onto companies in New York City, they must scramble to come up with new policies that will comply with state and federal laws. Although the state has certain public safety rights to protect their citizens, they do have to adhere to Federal Guidelines that have been determined a valid exercised right of the Federal Government. Medical and religious exemptions apply to every one of these mandates.