A major business group on Monday cast doubt on New York City’s newly announced COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private workers, noting that a similar measure attempted by President Joe Biden’s administration was blocked by a federal court.
“Inconsistent policies at the federal, state, and city levels are not helpful and it is unclear who will enforce a mayoral mandate, and whether it is even legal,” Kathryn Wylde, head of the Partnership for New York City, told news outlets in a statement.
“President Biden’s vaccine mandate on employers with over 100 employees is currently held up by litigation and it is hard to imagine that the mayor can do what the president is being challenged to accomplish,” she added.
Earlier Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said private workers must get vaccinated by Dec. 27 or face termination.
He said a major impetus behind the move is the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
Eight cases have been detected in the entire state so far, though some experts believe the variant could spread quickly.
Federal courts have blocked many of the Biden administration’s mandates, including one that sought to force every employer with 100 or more workers to require proof of vaccination or testing. An appeals court panel said last month the business mandate raised “grave statutory and constitutional issues” and later called it “staggeringly overbroad.”
The New York City mandate did not appear to have a testing opt-out. The only stated exceptions so far are for employees who work from home and for businesses that have zero employees apart from the owner. Officials promised to release more details next week.
Wylde said businesses weren’t consulted before the mandate was announced, an allegation challenged by the mayor, who leaves office next month after term limits prevented him from running for another four years.
“There was a lot of dialogue with the business community in advance,” the Democrat said.
A host of companies in New York City, including those providing child care and private schools, were already mandated to require vaccination.
“We’ve done it with a big swath of our business community already, and I think this next step is going to be something really the vast majority of businesses are going to embrace and work with us to get done,” de Blasio said.
The new order will affect roughly 184,000 businesses, according to Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner.
New York’s Mayor-elect Eric Adams has not commented on the looming mandate. His campaign did not return requests for comment.
De Blasio said he gave Adams an update last week on what his administration is doing.
“I’ll let him speak for himself about what he thinks about each approach, but he has been tremendously clear that he respects the health care professionals and their guidance,” he said.