Earlier today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all private sector employees working in the five boroughs. Unlike the federal mandate, the City’s will apply to all employers, regardless of size. The effective date for the mandate is set for December 27, giving employers and employees 3 weeks to comply. It has been estimated that over 184,000 organizations/businesses will be affected by this mandate.
Mayor de Blasio called the mandate “first in the nation” and a “preemptive strike” to protect New Yorkers from a possible winter spike in virus cases and the potential dangers of the Omicron variant. Currently, there have been 7 Omicron cases identified in New York City and the number of overall COVID cases is averaging at 1,500 per day, a 75% increase since the beginning of November. The City stated that it will be issuing additional information on December 15 to provide guidance on how the mandate will be enforced and how reasonable accommodation requests should be handled. Supplemental resources to assist small employers in implementing the mandate will also be released on the 15th.
The federal vaccine mandate is still under review since it was placed on hold by a federal court order, but Mayor de Blasio stated that he believes the City’s mandate will hold up in court and will be found to be enforceable. Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who will be taking office on January 1, will evaluate the merits of the mandate once he becomes mayor.
Employers may want to consider how they will be approaching the mandate and employers and employees alike must prepare for compliance as it will be coming into effect very soon. We will continue to monitor any developments relating to this mandate.