NYC Mayor Defends Vaccine Mandate: 'Decisive Action' Needed (CNN)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Tuesday, 07 December 2021 12:10 PM
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday defended his decision to mandate the city's businesses to have all of their workers vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 27, or just a few days before the city's new mayor takes office, saying it was important to take "decisive action" considering the threat posed by the omicron coronavirus variant.
"I don't think anyone should be surprised by what we're seeing with the omicron variant, with the extraordinary growth of cases that we're experiencing in this city and all over this country," the outgoing mayor told CNN's "New Day." "Look at a country like Germany, right now, with shutdowns, restrictions. We cannot let that happen.
"We had to take decisive action. This omicron variant moves fast. We have to move faster. That's why we did this."
The mayor announced the mandate on Monday, drawing ire from community leaders, businesses, and more who said the mandate came with little notice.
But de Blasio told CNN that his administration "talked to business leaders for months" about the delta variant. He also claimed that businesses said that when the government makes a decision on the mandate, "it makes it easier for them to act."
"They like to see the government lead," said de Blasio. "We did that with our own public employees, our own public schools. We proved it works, and then what we also heard from business leaders is Whatever you do, don't let us go back to shutdown. Don't let us go backward."
The current mandate, he added, is a "preemptive strike" against a variant that is threatening people in a new way as winter, holiday gatherings, and more approach.
The city already has a vaccine mandate for its restaurants, indoor entertainment venues, and fitness centers, and de Blasio said his office is hearing from business owners and customers that the order makes them feel more comfortable about going out.
More "specific protocols" will be released by Dec. 15, he added, "so people have time," but "we know we can't sit here and let this situation get worse. Lives are at stake."
The order takes place less than a week before de Blasio leaves office and Mayor-Elect Eric Adams is sworn in. De Blasio said he's spoken with his successor about the latest mandate, but he's not sure if the order will remain once he's out of office.
"I think the mayor-elect has been consistent," said de Blasio. "He will follow the ideas and concerns of the health leadership."
However, while the mayor wouldn't disclose the details of his private conversations with Adams, he said, "I'm going to say he's been true to his word. He listens to the health leadership."
Another part of the new rule is that children ages 5-11 must also have proof of vaccinations, beginning Dec. 15, before being allowed in restaurants and other public facilities.
However, the city's schools do not have a shot mandate, and de Blasio said that is a different matter.
"Every child 12 and up now is under that same requirement for our restaurants and it is working fine," said de Blasio. "We love it when people go to our restaurants or movie theaters. Those are obviously for fun, for enjoyment. A school is absolutely basic to a child and their development, their future.
"I don't want to hold it against a child if their parent doesn't take the time to get them vaccinated or for some reason hesitates. I don't want that child to miss out on education."