On December 6, 2021, outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a first-of-its-kind vaccine mandate for private employers in New York City. Effective December 27, 2021, private employers must require all employees to be fully vaccinated. In his press conference regarding the announcement, the Mayor responded that, as of now, the mandate will not apply to fully remote employees or employees who are alone in the workplace. Mayor-Elect Eric Adams, who takes office January 1, 2021, has already responded to Mayor de Blasio's plan, stating that he will evaluate this new mandate when he enters office to determine if he will continue with it during his tenure.
In addition to this new requirement, New York City is also expanding its Key to NYC requirements for indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment facilities. Previously, the Key to NYC required individuals who are 12 years old or older to show proof of at least one dose of a vaccination in order to enter such establishments. According to the Mayor's new announcement, children 5-11 years old will also need to show proof of at least one dose of a vaccination as well, effective December 14, 2021. Additionally, effective December 27, 2021, all individuals 12 years of age and over will need to show proof of both doses of a two-dose vaccine series (or one dose of a one-dose vaccine series) in order to enter or work in one of the aforementioned facilities.
As of now, we are still awaiting written guidance from New York City regarding additional details of its vaccine mandate. Many questions for employers remain unanswered: Will the vaccine mandate apply to all employers, regardless of employee head count? Will it allow for the typical legally recognized exemptions? Will employers have to pay for the vaccines and/or time off for employees to become vaccinated? Will there be penalties for non-compliance? Mayor de Blasio has stated that the City will publish written guidelines on the mandate no later than December 15, 2021. We will continue to monitor for any updates, and will publish any relevant information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please contact the authors of this alert or any other attorney in the Venable Labor and Employment Group with any questions.