NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams is planning to end a vaccine mandate for private-sector workers, and the administration is also planning to dispense with a similar requirement for students who participate in extracurricular activities, four people with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO.
The coming end of the mandates is the latest move by New York elected officials to roll back pandemic policies put in place by their predecessors. And while the shift in policy will come as welcome news to businesses, some parents and GOP lawmakers, who blasted the measures — it could also inflame relations with labor unions and fired city workers.
The mayor’s office did not specifically comment on the upcoming shift or when it might happen.
“We are constantly evaluating the latest science, data and policies to protect people from COVID-19, especially as more tools become readily available,” mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy said in a statement. “Vaccination has kept millions of New Yorkers safe and healthy throughout the pandemic, and we encourage every eligible New Yorker to get vaccinated and boosted.”
The head of a trade organization representing the city’s largest private employers praised the looming move.
“The additional flexibility that this provides to employers is greatly appreciated by the business community,” Kathryn Wylde, chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, said in a statement. “It will accelerate return to office and the move beyond pandemic mentality.”
The private-sector edict, implemented by former Mayor Bill de Blasio during his last month in office, applied to every company located within the five boroughs with more than one employee. Over its nine-month life, however, it went largely unenforced.
Since taking office, Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul have both steadily chipped away at several pandemic-era strictures. Adams has lifted vaccine requirements for bar and restaurant patrons, professional athletes and for students going to prom. Earlier this month, Hochul lifted a mask requirement for public transit and declined to renew emergency orders that gave her additional power in state government.
The city’s pending announcement is likely to focus on boosting economic activity and getting workers back into offices, a priority for the mayor. It could also kick up a fresh round of legal volleying over a separate policy mandating that the city’s workforce be vaccinated, which the mayor has made no mention of relaxing.
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