In recent weeks, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken a number of controversial actions. Three of those actions involve COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
On November 29, 2021, Mayor de Blasio—whose second and final term as mayor comes to a close at the end of this year—announced the imposition of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate upon child care workers. This mandate affects more than 100,000 workers.
On December 2, 2021, Mayor de Blasio announced that he was imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate upon all nonpublic school employees. According to Hamodia, this mandate is expected to impact approximately 56,000 employees at 938 schools.
Both child care workers and nonpublic school employees are directed to obtain an initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by December 20, 2021. According to The New York Times, nonpublic school employees will not be allowed to submit to weekly testing as an alternative to vaccination; they will, however, be offered religious exemptions. Schools that fail to demonstrate compliance may be fined.
Rabbi David Zwiebel, Chairman of the Committee of NYC Religious and Independent School Officials, wrote Mayor de Blasio to request that he reconsider his nonpublic school mandate. The Rabbi asserted that “‘many of our schools view Covid vaccination as a matter most appropriately left to individual choice, not government fiat. This is an area where government should be using its bully pulpit to persuade, not its regulatory arm to coerce.’” Rabbi Zwiebel added that nonpublic schools could face staffing shortages or even closures because of the mandate. New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (R-Brooklyn) tweeted, “‘Bill de Blasio needs to keep his hands off of our private schools. This mandate is just another way for government officials to sink their teeth into our private schools and attempt to exert control. If we let this slide, we are setting a dangerous precedent.’”
On December 6, 2021, Mayor de Blasio announced that all private employers would be mandated to require employee vaccination. The mandate becomes effective on December 27, and will affect approximately 184,000 businesses in New York City. Religious exemptions will be available. In addition, the Mayor announced that persons over age 12 will be required to show proof of full vaccination before dining indoors at a restaurant, going to a gym, or watching a performance. Furthermore, children ages 5-11 in similar circumstances will be required to show that they have received at least one vaccination shot.
Mayor de Blasio’s vaccination mandates are dictatorial and unnecessary. The nonpublic school mandate is an unacceptable new encroachment upon the autonomy of those schools. The Mayor has not bothered to explain why executive action was needed (or even permissible) in imposing these mandates, or why the City Council was bypassed. He has also failed to make the case that children—who appear to be less seriously affected by COVID-19 than most adults—need more aggressive vaccine mandates.