Watch ‘Blindsided’: Fury in NYC as de Blasio gives firms just 3 weeks to get vaxxed – Google New York News

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Mayor Bill de Blasio sprang a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on all private businesses in New York City on Monday — drawing immediate rebuke from trade groups, New York office workers and some fellow elected officials who said the backbone of the Big Apple was “blindsided” by the stunning move.

De Blasio, whose mayoralty ends at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, labeled making vaccines compulsory for private businesses a “pre-emptive strike” against an expected surge in COVID infections this winter amid the emergence of the Omicron variant.

“We’re going to announce a first-in-the-nation measure,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” pinning the move on getting “ahead of Omicron and all the other challenges we’re facing right now.” The city so far has just seven known cases of the new variant, according to state data released Saturday. 

Adding to the shockwave, the policy is scheduled to go into effect in just 21 days, on Dec. 27. The announcement left New Yorkers and the city’s business community flabbergasted.

Kathryn Wylde, head of the business group Partnership for NYC, blasted the mayor’s announcement. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference to outline his private-business vaccine mandate.
NYC Mayor

“There’s no forewarning, no discussion, no idea about whether it’s legal or who he expects to enforce it,” she said. “There’s been no consultation.

“We were blindsided,” a clearly enraged Wylde said.

She also questioned if de Blasio has the legal ability to implement the vaccine rule for private entities. 

“It’s unclear by what authority the mayor is doing this,” said Wylde. 

Some elected officials also trashed the broad mandate. 

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on December 6, 2021 that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are required to enter many indoor businesses in the five boroughs.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on December 6, 2021, that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are required to enter many indoor businesses in the five boroughs.
Christopher Sadowski

“Mayor de Blasio can’t leave fast enough. He has crushed small business, the economy and quality of life. How many more New Yorkers does he want to see move to the free state of Florida?” fumed Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. 

“I’m hopeful the incoming mayor will roll back these arbitrary mandates,” said Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who is running for governor. He predicted the mandate would cost New York City jobs. 

“When you dangerously combine a far-left, lame-duck politician, who is anti-business, one-dimensional, unaccountable, not bright and has a perpetual ‘I always know best’ attitude, you get Bill de Blasio, the worst mayor in America,” he said. “There is no way this job-killing, small business-suppressing mandate is legal!”

Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) also trashed the lame-duck’s mandate order. “Heading out the door, de Blasio is causing maximum damage in his vain pursuit to become governor of New York,” the conservative Democrat said through a spokesperson.

“The mandates will further burden the private sector at a time when the government should be doing everything possible to help businesses grow. Making it harder for families to go out to eat and harder for businesses to hire is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the policy a a
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the policy a “pre-emptive strike” against an expected surge in COVID cases this winter.
MSNBC / Morning Joe

Midtown office building custodian Miguel Munoz, who has been vaccinated, said de Blasio applying a vaccine mandate to non-government employees is a bridge too far. 

“It’s too much to force private employees to get the vaccine — for city workers, you can technically say the mayor is your boss and if he says you must be vaccinated, then you must be vaccinated. But I don’t see how the mayor has the right to force private workers to get vaccinated,” Munoz, 52, told The Post.

“That’s not fair. I understand he wants to save lives, but feeding into the fear of COVID doesn’t help, either.” 

Cynthia, who works in a Midtown marketing firm, said the City Hall-imposed vaccine requirement is “another reason” to leave the Big Apple. 

“Just terrific. Bill de Blasio just gave me another reason I need to get the hell out of New York, or at least find a job that lets me work remotely,” said the 40-year-old, who declined to give her last name due to fear of blowback.

“I work in the private sector and had really hoped until just now that it would stay private, but that’s not the case. I can’t live like this. It’s really disappointing. I hope the new mayor has the compassion and good sense to overturn this.”

Democratic Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who will return to her Upper West Side City Council seat in the new year, said she backed the requirement but blasted de Blasio for not consulting others before announcing it. 

 “When I do something, I usually talk to the people before I do what I do – I don’t think that happened here,” she told The Post. 

“I support the mandate. I want people to live,” she added. “But, you’ve got to meet people halfway. This is very. ‘OK, we’re doing this right now.’”

Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (R- Brooklyn) accused the outgoing mayor of “trampling” on Big Apple residents’ freedom. 

“Bill de Blasio has decided to spend his last few weeks as a lame duck by trampling all over New Yorkers’ bodily autonomy. It was private schools last week, and now it’s private businesses. Our mayor doesn’t seem to understand what the word private means,” the newly elected lawmaker told The Post.

“That is their right as Americans, and Mayor de Blasio has no business challenging people’s right to make their own health-care choices.”

The de Blasio mandate also does not apply to a big sector of workers who are in daily contact with millions of New Yorkers — state employees like MTA workers.

Longtime political strategist Hank Sheinkopf said de Blasio, who in recent months has taken steps toward a run for governor next year, imposed the new restrictions to further his standing with the state’s liberal voters. 

The new policy is slated to take effect on December 27, 2021.
The new policy is slated to take effect on December 27, 2021.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

“This an attempt by Bill de Blasio to appeal to the left and separate himself from [Public Advocate] Jumaane Wiliams in the Democratic primary for governor. There’s no better way to do that than taking on big business,” he told The Post. 

“There’s nothing Bill de Blasio does that isn’t political.”

Still, Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, during a subsequent virtual press briefing, insisted about the mandate, “I know it will save lives and help prevent unnecessary suffering.” 

“Everything that we can do to get everyone vaccinated will make a huge difference,” said Dr. Mitch Katz, head of the city’s hospital system. “We desperately want everybody vaccinated so that we do not have to have any more death in New York City. We have gone through enough.”

The vaccination rate in New York City is already higher than in the rest of the state, prompted by regulations implemented over the summer, as upstate and western New York area inoculation efforts have stalled in recent months, causing upticks in virus positivity rates there, The Post reported last week. 

As of Monday afternoon, more than 89 percent of adults in the five boroughs have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to city data. 

Last week, the Big Apple registered a per-capita death rate about one-third the average in the United States, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Currently, only municipal employees are subject to a COVID-19 inoculation requirement, which took effect for most city workers in late October and prompted backlash from members of the FDNY, NYPD and the city Department of Education.

Also Monday, de Blasio announced that two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be required to enter many indoor businesses in the five boroughs — including bars, restaurants and fitness centers. The current iteration of the “Key to NYC” program requires just one vaccine dose.

 A group of protesters gather in Times Square in Manhattan to show their opposition to Covid-19 Vaccines on December 05, 2021.
Protesters gather in Times Square in Manhattan to show their opposition to COVID-19 vaccines on December 5, 2021.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Additionally, de Blasio revealed that children ages 5 to 11 will soon be required to receive at least one shot in a vaccine series to enter indoor establishments, now that shots are available to them.  Previously, kids under 12 years old were able to accompany vaccinated adults in settings where proof of inoculation is mandatory to gain entry.  

Those regulation adjustments will also take effect Dec. 27, the mayor said.

One city lawmaker was optimistic the new provision would prompt an increase in young New Yorkers getting inoculated against the virus.

“The kids, that’s the age group that’s lagging far behind in vaccination,” said Councilman Mark Levine (D-Morningside Heights) who chairs the Council’s health-care committee. “There was a burst in the first couple of weeks by early adopters, but the pace has slowed since then.

“This is an age group that we need to do more to protect, and I’m hopeful this new policy will do that.”

In response, a rep for Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who will take office Jan. 1, did not take a position on de Blasio’s controversial measure.

“The mayor-elect will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals,” said spokesman Evan Thies.

The new measures come after de Blasio on Friday hinted he is considering adding more restrictive provisions to the Big Apple’s indoor venue vaccine rules, which city workers began enforcing on Sept. 13. 

Last month, a federal appeals court blocked President Biden’s nationwide version of the private-sector vaccine requirement. The decision was subsequently upheld by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. 

In the five boroughs, several municipal unions, including the city’s largest representing police officers, filed lawsuits with the aim of reversing the city worker vaccine mandate. That came after a group of restaurants and businesses in August filed a suit against the mayor’s proof of vaccination policy rule for city eateries, gyms, movie theaters and other indoor establishments. 

The court actions have resulted in some delays, but so far have not proved successful.

On MSNBC, de Blasio didn’t seem concerned about inevitable legal challenges to his new mandate for private-sector employers. 

“We are confident, because it’s universal,” he said on the morning cable show. “I don’t know all the intricacies of what the Biden administration has been through, but I do know this: Our health commissioner has put a series of mandates in place. They have won in court, state court, federal court, every single time, and it’s because they’re universal and consistent, and they’re about protecting the public right now from a clear and present danger.” 

“We’re confident that this will survive any challenge,” city Corporation Counsel Georgia Pestana during the mayoral press briefing, without elaborating. 

But pressed on how he plans to enforce the new rules, de Blasio had no answer and instead kicked the can down the road a week.  

“We’re going to work with the different business communities between now and Dec. 15 to put together those protocols,” he said. “We’ll publish them on Dec. 15, so still well before the mandate takes effect Dec. 27.”

Asked about potential penalties for non-compliant employers, the mayor again responded vaguely. “It’s part of life that there have to be some consequences,” he said. “We’ll figure out what makes sense by Dec. 15 when we put out the guidelines.”

De Blasio said he spoke to both Gov. Kathy Hochul and Adams, his successor, who is currently on a personal trip to Ghana, about the new policy before he revealed it. 

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