“The fact that we allow conventions at the Javits Center with more than 50,000 people from across the US and the world, even delta, during a pandemic, is a dereliction of duty by our leaders,” he said. adding that the planned New Year’s Eve ball loss in Times Square was another example.
The second known case of the ommicron variant in the country involved a Minnesota man attending an anime conference in Manhattan. It was announced Thursday morning, and by the end of the day, New York officials had discovered five additional cases and said the spread was underway in the community. City and state are already dealing with increases in COVID cases and hospital admissions due to the delta variant.
The new mandate is likely to face legal challenges. President Joe Biden’s order to require all private companies with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated was temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court last month. He has since asked the court to reinstate the warrant, citing the dangers of spreading the virus in the workplace.
Asked about a potential legal challenge, Georgia Pestana, the chief of New York City’s legal department who attended the mayor’s briefing via Zoom, said Biden’s warrant arose from questions about the authority of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which issued the emergency rule last month, as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which mandated a mandate in all health facilities.
“I do not believe that Dr. Chokshi has the authority to grant this mandate,” Pestana said. She added that the “overall nature” of the mandate, which now extends to all companies with personal employees, “makes it defensible”.
Alicia Ouellette, the dean and president of Albany Law School, said the city should answer questions about how religious and medical exemptions would be handled. She also said that the city does not necessarily have to enforce the mandate. The new rule could just be based on the honor system.
“There are many health and safety regulations that are imposed on employers, and employers are expected to comply with them, whether they are required to affirmatively report how they have complied with them,” Ouellette said. “It depends on the specific regulations.”
Kathryn Wylde, the chair of the Partnership for New York – a group representing the city’s business community, said she was taken aback by the news, adding that she only learned of the new mandate through news reports.
Wylde said she was confused about how the city could issue such an order when Biden’s order stalled in court. “A mayoral mandate that expects employers to be the enforcer puts employers in a difficult position,” she argued.
She added that the new order would only place “more stress, more tension” around companies’ ongoing efforts to get their employees back to personal work.
Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a group representing the restaurant industry, objected to the new requirement that children ages 5 and older be vaccinated. Citing the needed revenue from tourists, he said in a statement: “Given the fast approaching holiday season and the significant impact of the December 14 deadline, the proposal should be postponed until next year.”
According to a recent survey by the Partnership for New York, only about half of Manhattan companies have vaccine mandates as part of their return to work policies, while another 39% use vaccine-or-test policies for their personal employees. About one in ten companies — 11% — do not have a COVID-19 vaccine policy.
The head of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce expressed some opposition to the new requirements, citing the need for flexible solutions for businesses.
“Weeks before the holidays, and with only a few weeks to go, as Mayor de Blasio’s latest announcement to demand that private sector workers be vaccinated continues to cause fear among local business,” said Linda Baran, president. and CEO of Staten Island. Chamber of Commerce: “Attracting and retaining new employees remains a pressing issue, and this mandate will only make the problem worse.”
De Blasio said he notified New York government Kathy Hochul of his decision Monday morning, though he did not specify its response. “I told her why it was the right choice for us to do now,” he said. “We had a good conversation.”
The mayor said he had consulted with Adams before leaving for Ghana last Monday about his “first thoughts” and again Friday night as his government “perfected” the proposal. “I’m sure he will talk to it,” he said, adding that Adams has consistently expressed his own urgency around the pandemic.
Adams is not expected to return to New York City until December 8.
Evan Thies, an Adams spokesperson, issued the following statement: “The elected mayor will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies while in office and make decisions based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals.”
This story has been updated.