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Adams Ending NYC’s Covid Shot Mandate for Private Employers (1)

Sept. 20, 2022, 1:52 PM

New York Mayor Eric Adams said he is ending the city’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement for private-sector workers on Nov. 1, one of the last remaining restrictions of the pandemic.

Adams announced the change on Tuesday as he received his second Covid booster shot at City Hall. He also said the city is dropping a requirement that students who participate in after-school activities be vaccinated. He said city government workers will still need to be immunized against Covid.

“We believe that we have done a successful job in dealing with Covid,” Adams said.

The mayor has done away with a range of Covid precautions since he took office in January, including requirements for face masks in schools and that proof of vaccination be shown to eat inside restaurants and attend concerts.

The latest shift comes ahead of the fall and winter months, when another Covid surge is expected as cold weather sends people indoors, employers urge workers to come back to the office and children return to in-person schooling.

The news of the plan was first reported by Politico.

The city’s private-sector Covid vaccine mandate dates back to late December, in the last days of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure. De Blasio said that it would apply to about 184,000 businesses and help prevent another Covid surge.

But the requirement has been controversial. Adams created an exemption for athletes like Brooklyn Nets basketball star Kyrie Irving and performers earlier this year, prompting accusations of unfairness. The city also hasn’t been enforcing the requirement.

Read: Adams hasn’t been enforcing NYC’s private-sector vaccine mandate

Lawsuits Filed

The city is likely to face further accusations of unfairness after Tuesday’s announcement because city workers still need to be vaccinated. That policy has prompted lawsuits and led the city to fire more than 1,400 workers across agencies including the Department of Education, the New York City Housing Authority and the Department of Correction earlier this year.

Asked why that requirement is remaining, New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, who wore a mask at the Tuesday press conference, said that the city is “looking at all of our policies and thinking about a glide path toward normal, whatever the new normal looks like.”

Around 80% of New York City residents have completed their primary series of the Covid vaccine, higher than the average across the US, and 40% have received booster shots.

Officials have justified the relaxation of Covid requirements as part of a push for normalcy and restoring economic activity after years of pandemic-related disruptions.

“It’s definitely a point in the pandemic where we’re reassessing all our strategies and all the policies and programs that are associated with those strategies,” Vasan said in an interview this month. Covid mask and vaccination mandates were implemented as part of an emergency response, “and now we’re assessing all of that risk right now and seeing which policies are appropriate to keep, which are appropriate to maybe scale back.”

(Adds additional details about fall and winter surge in paragraph 5, and city worker vaccine mandate in paragraph 8)

--With assistance from Micah Washington.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Emma Court in New York at ecourt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Shelly Banjo at sbanjo@bloomberg.net

Mark Schoifet

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.