New York City Mandates COVID Vaccinations for Private-Sector Employees

Children ages 5 to 11 will also have to prove they’ve been vaccinated to enter indoor dining, entertainment and fitness establishments


Mayor Bill de Blasio mandated on Monday that all private-sector workers in New York City get vaccinated to help limit the spread of the omicron variant — a new version of COVID-19 expected to be more transmissible.

The rule would go into effect on Dec. 27, and de Blasio said in an interview on MSNBC on Monday morning that he was confident the mandate would withstand legal challenges. That’s even after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) paused enforcing a federal private-employer mandate in November while it faces a legal battle in federal court. 

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“We in New York City have decided to use 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,” de Blasio told MSNBC. “We’ve got omicron as a new factor [and] we’ve got the colder weather, which is really going to create additional challenges with the delta variant.”

New York City has also required that those entering indoor dining, entertainment and gyms must demonstrate that they have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, but de Blasio raised that dose requirement to two — excluding those that got the Johnson & Johnson single-dose shot — and required that children ages 5 to 11 show that they have been vaccinated to participate in those same indoor activities. 

The city’s indoor dining has faced at least two previous legal challenges from residents and right-wing political hopefuls alike, which argue that vaccination mandates for indoor venues unfairly burden businesses. But de Blasio said the newly expanded mandate was necessary to save lives and beat back the coronavirus, which has ravaged the city’s residents and economy.

Transmission of the coronavirus for all five boroughs is high as COVID-19 cases in the city increase, and total cases hit a three-month high of 2,607 on Nov. 29, according to city data. But the mayor also cited concerns that the omicron variant could drive a further spike in cases. So far, the state has identified eight cases of the omicron variant, with seven in New York City, CNBC reported.

The World Health Organization said at the end of November that it’s unclear whether the omicron variant causes more severe disease than other versions of the virus, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects it to spread more easily than other strains. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against the variant and COVID-19, according to the CDC.

Citywide, about 8.3 million people, or 78 percent of residents, have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, with Manhattan having the highest proportion of residents at least partially vaccinated, at 87 percent as of Dec. 6. 

The city has already mandated that city workers be vaccinated by Oct. 31, except for Department of Corrections workers, who had until Dec. 1 to get vaccinated. As of Nov. 29, 94 percent of all municipal workers had gotten vaccinated, per data from the mayor’s office.

Celia Young can be reached at