New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday a blanket Covid-19 vaccination mandate for the private sector in the country’s largest city, effective late December. The decree goes beyond President Joe Biden’s nationwide directive for businesses with more than 100 employees to vaccinate personnel by January 4, which has been halted by court restrictions.
“As of today, we’re going to announce the first-in-the-nation step — our health commissioner is going to announce a vaccine requirement for all private sector companies,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. Although vaccine mandates have a long history in the United States, they have historically been imposed by cities or states.
De Blasio mentioned the development of the Covid-19 Omicron form, harsh winter weather, and holiday parties as “added hurdles” in addressing the pandemic in New York, which was severely impacted by the virus in 2020, with at least 34,000 deaths.
Since late November, at least 15 states in the United States have confirmed Omicron cases, including three in New York, prompting de Blasio to express “grave worry. “We in New York City have decided to launch a pre-emptive strike to truly take a stand against Covid’s further growth and the threats it poses to all of us,” he stated.
Apart from the requirement, which would apply to around 184,000 businesses and companies, he stated that further efforts will be taken to “accelerate vaccination in order to stay ahead of Omicron and all the other issues we are currently having with Covid.”
Indoor dining establishments, gyms, and entertainment venues will require confirmation of one immunization shot for children aged five to eleven. All New Yorkers aged 12 and older will be asked to produce confirmation of two doses of the same vaccine for the same places. Children from five to eleven must also receive vaccinations prior to participating in “high-risk” extracurricular activities such as athletics and music.
The US has slapped a travel ban on South Africa and seven other southern African countries in an attempt to halt the spread of the strain. Biden presented his updated measures to combat Covid-19 this winter on Thursday, including stricter testing criteria for travellers and an increase in immunization efforts. All incoming travelers will be required to test negative within one day after their travels, and fast tests costing $25 will be reimbursed by insurance and supplied for free to those who are uninsured.
Despite the fact that shots are free and readily available, widespread vaccination reluctance has hindered US efforts to stop the pandemic. Despite increasingly inventive efforts to persuade individuals to get their shots, over 40% of the population in the United States is still not completely vaccinated, and booster rates are similarly low.
Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top pandemic advisor, said Sunday that early indicators of the Omicron variant’s severity were “a little encouraging,” but cautioned that additional research was needed.
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