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NYC Mayor de Blasio demands full vaccination for all city workers by September & threatens ‘tough consequences’ for mask flouters

NYC Mayor de Blasio demands full vaccination for all city workers by September & threatens ‘tough consequences’ for mask flouters
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is requiring all city employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or face weekly tests, adding to a growing pool of workers he’s mandating get the jab as he prepares to leave office.

The mandate, announced on Monday, will affect 340,000 municipal employees, including teachers and police officers – two groups that have historically had their differences with the mayor. 

It’s not clear how long the testing mandate would remain in place for those who opt not to get vaccinated, and the tone of the mayor’s public announcements has been strongly in favor of mandating the jab. Unvaccinated staff, city health commissioner Dave Chokshi made clear, would not be permitted inside city property without masks.

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While 71% of adult New Yorkers have reportedly had at least one dose of the vaccine, certain groups of city workers lag far behind that figure, including de Blasio’s bete noire, the New York Police Department. Just 43% of them had gotten the shot as of last week, the department acknowledged.

The mayor also came forward on Friday to urge the city’s private businesses to require vaccinations, hinting then that he would do the same for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in the city’s employ. Already, public health employees have been ordered to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, and he urged the city’s private hospitals to “move immediately to some sort of mandate, whatever the maximum you feel you can do.

We have reached the limits of purely voluntary,” he continued, demanding “more mandates” as he complained that the city’s efforts to lure New Yorkers to the needle with prizes like cash, theater tickets, free MetroCards and at-home vaccination have not moved the numbers up. Some 65% of adult New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

The reported deadline for most employees to get their shots would be September 13, the start date for a million children in city schools. Many parents are still resentful over last year’s tug-of-war regarding remote learning and the transition back to classrooms – a battle marked by repeated rescheduling by the mayor. Other employees working in “residential and congregate” settings – about 45,000 of them – will face an August 16 deadline.

Attempting to force vaccine mandates through has not always ended well, with many public unions opposing vaccination as a condition of employment even while encouraging their members to get the jab. The absence of full FDA approval for the shots, which are still only available under emergency use authorization in the US, has contributed to some healthcare providers’ reluctance to be inoculated.

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The mayor’s recent suggestion that he would “seriously consider” a policy like France’s, in which proof of vaccination or a negative test is required to enter some public spaces, has also sparked enormous protests in that country and it’s questionable whether New Yorkers would accept it.

In a bid to make it easier to tell the vaccinated apart from the unvaccinated, de Blasio announced the city would be rolling out an ‘NYC CovidSafe’ app on August 2. He also issued a dramatic call to Facebook and Twitter to deplatform the "Disinformation Dozen,” referring to 12 social media users who've been blamed for spreading false information about Covid-19 vaccines.

But the mayor, who was widely panned for his initial performance during the coronavirus epidemic, perceived as at odds with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over restrictions and reopening, won’t be around for much longer no matter how the push to vaccinate goes. 

Come election day, former NYPD officer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, winner of the Democratic primary, will face off against Guardian Angels founder and conservative radio host Curtis Sliwa, the Republicans’ pick, to replace de Blasio as the city’s leader.

New York is not alone in mandating the jab for city workers. California officials also announced on Monday that state employees and health care workers will be required to show vaccination proof – or get tested weekly – from next month.

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