De Blasio New Mandate

December 6, 2021

“Preemptive Strike” or Total Bomb?

America's largest city announces updated vaccine mandates for children and private sector employees.
A sign of more mandates to come – or unique to America's largest city?
"We … have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of Covid …"

Mayor Bill de Blasio on expanding vaccine requirements in NYC because of the new Omicron variant & rising infections. The city has high vaccination rates (89% of adults have at least one dose of the vaccine; 82% are fully vaccinated). However, the health commissioner said cases have “doubled since a recent low point in early November, increasing in every borough and every age group.”

What We Know:

  • In EFFECT: Proof of one COVID-19 vaccine dose required for city workers, as well as for indoor dining & activities for those 12 and up.
  • NEW: Children ages 5 – 11, who recently became eligible for vaccination, will need to show proof of at least one dose for indoor dining, entertainment, fitness & “high risk” activities such as dance or band. Those 12 & older will need 2 doses (unless they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Also: vaccine requirement for private sector employees.
“We were blindsided. There’s no forewarning, no discussion, no idea about whether it’s legal or who he expects to enforce it.”

Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit business group that serves as a “broker” between private businesses and the city/state government. The city’s health commissioner says more details on the vaccine requirement for an estimated 184,000+ businesses will come next week.

“… expansions to the Key to NYC vaccine mandate pose additional challenges for an already beleaguered restaurant industry in need of tourism support and revenues this holiday season.”

Executive dir. Andrew Rigie, NYC Hospitality Alliance, says he has concerns vaccine requirements for children may negatively impact business (dining/travel). Business owners have expressed mixed reactions in local NYC media – some sharing concerns about losing employees in a tough hiring environment, and others saying most employees have already been vaccinated.

"While de Blasio says he’s confident of winning in court, I’m not entirely sure. The city has never before issued such a sweeping vaccine mandate in the private sector … its vast scope is unprecedented."

Prof. Lawrence Gostin, Georgetown University, specializes in global health law; he says the mayor’s unilateral action at the end of his term – without direct authorization from the city council, and no exceptions for businesses (such as a COVID testing option) – may make this mandate more vulnerable in court.

The question of legality often comes down to who requests the mandate AND how it’s enforced. For example, a federal appeals court temporarily paused the Biden administration’s proposed federal vaccine mandate for businesses employing 100 or more people because of a question about constitutionality (can the federal government require this of state/local businesses?). The future of that federal requirement is TBD.

Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live on MSNBC’s Morning Joe (The Official Website of the City of New York)

Vaccination Proof for Indoor Activities (Key to NYC): Requirements Expanding in December (The Official Website of the City of New York)

New York City imposes vaccine mandate for all private sector employers, Mayor de Blasio says (CNBC)

New York City to Mandate Vaccines for Employees at Private Businesses (New York Times)

A decent mandate done all wrong: What de Blasio got wrong with his vaccine requirement for NYC private-sector businesses (Op-ed by Professor Lawrence Gostin; Daily News)

by Jenna Lee,