New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Dec. 6 that the city will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees in the city’s private sector effective Dec. 27, 2021. According to the mayor’s office, this mandate will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses. All private-sector employees will be required to have received at least one dose of a vaccine by that date. The requirement will not be limited to businesses in certain industries or based on company size. The mandate will take effect four days prior to the mayor leaving office; effective Jan. 1, 2022, Eric Adams will replace de Blasio as mayor. The mayor’s office further announced that on Dec. 15 the city will issue additional enforcement and reasonable accommodation guidance. A vaccine mandate already applies to individuals employed by the city.

Mayor de Blasio’s new Executive Order will significantly expand the current “Key to NYC” vaccine mandate imposed in August that required patrons over the age of 12 and employees of indoor dining, indoor fitness, and indoor entertainment and performances to provide proof of one dose of COVID-19 vaccination. Beginning Dec. 14, children between the ages of five and 11 must show proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to enter these establishments. And, as of Dec. 27, all patrons over the age of 12 and all employees working at these venues must show evidence of having received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (the requirement for one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains the same). Mayor de Blasio, however, has not required these persons to be “fully vaccinated” as defined by the CDC; thus, the patron or employee may enter these businesses without waiting for two weeks from receiving his or her last vaccine dose. There remains no exception to this vaccination mandate, such as having the option to provide a negative COVID-19 test.

The mayor has expressed confidence that the new and expanded mandates will survive any legal challenges.

The New York City vaccine mandates do not prevent employers from imposing stronger requirements. A private-sector employer, restaurant, or entertainment venue may continue to require patrons or employees to be “fully vaccinated” even if not mandated to do so by the mayor’s Executive Orders.

For more information and updates on the developing situation, visit GT’s Health Emergency Preparedness Task Force: Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Business Continuity Amid COVID-19 page.