New York City declared on Monday that all private-sector employers must implement COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their workers, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant has spread to at least one-third of US states.
The biggest US city set a December 27 deadline for all 184 000businesses within its limits to make their employees show proof that they have been vaccinated.
In addition, children 5 to 11 years old must get at least one vaccine dose by December 14 to enter restaurants and to participate in extracurricular school activities, such as sports, band, orchestra and dance, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“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, who leaves office next month, said in a statement.
De Blasio’s successor, Eric Adams, will evaluate this mandate and other COVID-19 strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals, said his spokesperson Evan Thies.
About 27% of children ages 5 to 12 have gotten at least one dose and 15% are fully vaccinated, according to the Citys website.
The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce said it supported the expanded mandate. The requirements come at a time when new coronavirus infections are accelerating nationwide, especially in northern states, as colder weather has encouraged more mingling and socializing indoors.
Over the last week, the country has averaged more than 120 000 new infections a day, up 64% from the prior week, according to a Reuters tally.
Deaths, which lag infections, have averaged 1 300 a day over the last seven days, up from an average of 800 a day a week ago, according to Reuters data.
The Delta variant still accounts for 99.9% of new COVID-19 cases in the United States, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News on Sunday.
Omicron, first detected last month in southern Africa, has spread around the globe and shows signs of being more contagious than the Delta variant.
A total of several dozen Omicron cases have been found in 17 out of 50 US states.