Mayor Bill de Blasio will tighten the reins on the city’s ongoing vaccine mandate, extending requirements to private employees and children aged 5 and older. The NYC mayor announced on Monday that all private sector employees must get vaccinated, while the city’s previous vaccine mandate for entering restaurants, gyms, and other public indoor settings will tighten as soon as next week.
Beginning December 14, children between the ages of 5 and 11 will be required to show proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to enter those venues. New Yorkers over the age of 12 must show proof of two vaccine doses, or one dose in the case of Johnson and Johnson, starting December 27.
“Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe,” de Blasio said in a statement addressing the new mandate.
New York City previously enacted a vaccine mandate for its municipal employees, but the new policy extends that requirement to the city’s roughly 184,000 private sector business owners, as well. Roughly 80 percent of New Yorkers of all ages have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 94 percent of the city’s workforce has been vaccinated, according to a spokesperson for the mayor.
Last week, de Blasio and city health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi recommended that New Yorkers to wear masks in all public indoor settings, regardless of whether they have previously been vaccinated or diagnosed with COVID-19. The announcement, an extension of the city’s previous mask guidelines for vaccinated individuals, came before any omicron cases had been detected in the United States or New York City.
De Blasio and Governor Kathy Hochul announced the state’s first five cases of omicron at a press conference on Thursday, after a positive case of the coronavirus variant in Minnesota was tied to an anime convention at Manhattan’s Javitz Center. Eight cases of the new variant have since been identified in New York state at the time of publishing. Omicron, which has now been detected in dozens of countries, is believed to be more contagious than the delta variant among vaccinated individuals, though experts say it’s too early to draw any conclusions.
As of December 4, the COVID-19 test positivity rate on a seven-day average in NYC was 2.88 percent, according to city data, indicating a slow incline in case counts over the past month. The city’s safety threshold for NYC’s test positivity rate on a seven-day average is 5 percent. Among the tested cases in the past four weeks, 98 percent were found to be the highly transmissible delta variant.
More than 5.4 million adult NYC residents — roughly 81 percent of the total adult population — have been fully vaccinated as of November 28, according to state data.