Dec. 29, 2021 -- As new COVID cases mount in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio began his final week in office watching a sweeping COVID vaccine mandate for private employers take effect.
Business owners were supposed to require all workers to have at least one dose of vaccine by Monday, Dec. 27. Workers won’t be able to opt out of vaccinations, as a proposed federal mandate for private sector employees would allow. Municipal workers were already under a vaccine mandate.
De Blasio called it the strongest private sector vaccine mandate in the world – and insists it’s absolutely necessary.
“I am 110 percent convinced this was the right thing to do, remains the right thing to do, particularly with the ferocity of Omicron,” the mayor told reporters on Monday. “I don't know if there's going to be another variant behind it, but I do know our best defense is to get everyone vaccinated and mandates have worked.”
It’s unclear if de Blasio’s successor, Mayor-Elect Eric Adams, will continue the vaccine mandate. The New York Times reported that Adams’ spokesman, Evan Thies, said in a text: “The mayor-elect will make announcements on his administration’s Covid policy this week.”
De Blasio said enforcement would be light in the first week. Not every business owner is following the law.
The New York Post said Stratis Morfogen, owner of the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop and executive managing director of Brooklyn Chop House, went on Instagram and dared de Blasio and Gov. Kathy Hochul to come and arrest him.
“Not going to follow your mandate on threatening my family of employees to get the jab or lose your job!” he said.
Morfogen said he’s not against vaccines but thinks the mandate violates his employees’ constitutional rights. He said he’s taking more steps toward safety, such as frequent testing of employees.
Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer, who oversees restaurants such as Union Square Cafe and Blue Smoke, not only requires employees to get vaccinated, but to get the booster too.
“Hospitality is a team sport — it’s kind of like putting on a play on Broadway or playing a basketball game,” Meyer told CNBC. “If you can’t field a full healthy team, you’re going to have to hit pause.”
Customers at Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants will soon be required to show proof of having received a booster shot.
Also starting Dec. 27, all New Yorkers 12 and up must show they’ve received two doses of vaccine to enter indoor dining, fitness, entertainment, and performance venues unless they’ve gotten the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.