The next mayor of New York City said Thursday he’s not going to roll back a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private workers.
“We are going to keep that in place,” Mayor-elect Eric Adams, a Democrat, told reporters during a press conference.
Adams had previously resisted committing to maintaining all of the mandates Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has imposed.
The mandate went into effect on Dec. 27. It applies to approximately 184,000 workers in the city of some 8.8 million people.
Previous rules mandated vaccination for municipal workers and health care workers.
De Blasio told reporters when announcing the latest mandate that it was meant to be “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.”
But the mandate drew pushback from some, including the Partnership for New York City, which represents a slew of major businesses that have offices in the city.
No lawsuits have appeared to have been filed yet against the mandate, which is similar to requirements laid out on a federal level by President Joe Biden’s administration. That mandate has been challenged in court and could ultimately be blocked; it also allows workers to remain unvaccinated if they get tested for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis.
Adams said his team spoke with business leaders in the city to let them know that the mandate would remain in place.
“As we continue to look at the evolution of this virus, there will be moments when we can change some of the mandates,” Adams said.
“I would love to get to the day when we won’t have children wearing masks in schools, when we won’t have families are needing [sic] to sit in a restaurant or visit other locations with the vaccine cards. We’re going to make those adjustments based on what the science tells us, when we can remove some of the mandates, and they may come in time, if a new variant comes, when we have to increase mandates. And so right now we want to maintain what was put in place for the business community, that was put in place on the 27th. We’re going to continue that and if there’s a moment when we can change or alter that we’re going to do so based on the science,” he added.
Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, who is staying on board for the first few months of the new administration, said the focus will be on making businesses comply with the mandate, not on punishing them.
“We know businesses share our goals of keeping their staff and their clients safe and their doors open,” he said.
Chokshi also revealed that Adams tasked his team with studying whether to make booster shots part of the mandates, as the effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing infection has plunged during the current Omicron variant-driven wave.