New York City to Indefinitely Continue Vaccine Mandate for Private Sector

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School mask mandate for those aged 5 and under to also remain in place

New York City’s new health commissioner, Ashwin Vasan, said on Friday that the city’s vaccine mandate for private-sector workers who work on-site will continue indefinitely. The city’s school mask mandate for children aged 5 and under will also remain in place.

At his first COVID-19 press briefing, when asked whether there were any specific benchmarks that would enable the city to decide to lift the vaccine mandate for private-sector workers, Vasan did not initially provide a direct response.

“I would love to sit here and say I can give you a date or a data point to say when we would lift those things. Right now, we are in a low risk environment and we will continue to evaluate that data,” he said.

When pressed further about whether there were any specific metric in mind for which the city government would lift the mandate Vasan responded: “I think it’s indefinite at this point.”

“People who have tried to predict what will happen in this future for this pandemic have repeatedly found egg on their face, as they say,” he added. “And I’m not going to do that here today.”

He noted that the city’s color-coded risk alert system provides the government with “very clear benchmarks,” with COVID-19 cases, hospitalization rates, and bed occupancy rates being the “pillars” of the alert system.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the private sector workers was announced in December 2021 under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, requiring all private employers to require their employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Prior to that, de Blasio announced in October 2021 a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all public sector workers.

The latest announcement by Vasan comes as a new form of the Omicron variant is rapidly spreading in New York—the BA.2 subvariant, accounting for about 39 percent of the cases in the state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

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