NBC New York
All private-sector workers in New York City will be subject to the mayor's vaccine mandate starting Dec. 27, affecting 184,000 businesses, while vaccine proof for indoor dining, fitness and entertainment will be required for children ages 5 to 11, according to a toughened vaccine mandate announced by Bill de Blasio Monday.
The current rule will also expand to require two vaccine doses instead of proof of only one as far as people age 12 and older are concerned, the mayor said. That excludes people who were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson's single-dose shot.
Kids aged 5 to 11 only need to show proof of one dose when the requirement for them kicks in on Dec. 14, considering they only first became eligible for their initial doses in early November and must wait at least 21 days between Pfizer's doses.
De Blasio hinted late last week that changes to the city's vaccine policies could be coming soon, given the latest challenges posed in the city's ongoing COVID war. He says more measures may be imminent as far as vaccinations go, too.
"We’ve got Omicron as a new factor. We’ve got the colder weather which is going to really create additional challenges with the Delta variant, we’ve got holiday gatherings," de Blasio said Monday as he announced the mandate on MSNBC. "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."
The mayor was also asked about his legal authority to implement such an all-encompassing vaccine mandate, especially given President Joe Biden's mandate for private employers with workforces of 100 or more employees has stalled in the courts. De Blasio said there is a "legal right of the health commissioner to keep the people of this city safe. That is something that's been proven time and time again."
"When the health commissioner believes there is a pressing public health threat, he has the ability to act in that situation," the mayor said of the "broad strokes."
His corporation counselor, Georgia Pestana, affirmed the legal authority of the city's health commissioner to implement such sweeping rules and said city and state courts have continuously upheld that concept amid a number of challenges these last few months.
Pestana said the issue the Biden administration faces "doesn't really apply here" because the injunctions were issued over the legal authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to manage mandate implementation in one case and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in another.
"Here, I don't believe there is any question that Dr. [Dave] Chokshi has the authority to issue this mandate and it's the across-the-board nature of it that I think also makes it defensible," Pestana said.
He said the city will issue additional enforcement and reasonable accommodation guidance to support small businesses with implementation on Dec. 15, about a week and a half before the mandate takes effect. Asked about potential consequences, de Blasio says some have to be in play. He didn't elaborate but he said few businesses have had to be penalized to date because of the rules.
For the city's workforce, noncompliance with the vaccine mandate in the absence of an approved exemption comes with unpaid leave. Some smaller private businesses may not have that capacity, de Blasio acknowledged, which is why he says his administration is taking the next nine days to work out details with them.
Looks like everyone now is under the purview of Dr. Chok. A shell of a man nobody elected.