NYC Drops Mandate on COVID-19 Vaccines for Private Sector Workers

By Roya Statler

New York City, New York

New York City Mayor Eric Adams at a press conference on March 4th, 2022, where he announced the end to public school mask mandates and proof of vaccination requirements. (John Nacion / Star Max/IPx via AP)

On December 6th, 2021, former mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all private sector workers in New York City will be required to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by December 27th. A preemptive mandate was issued on October 20th, 2021 announcing a vaccine requirement for all public-facing workers. The law was then expanded to the private sector, a workforce of roughly 184,000 businesses. De Blasio’s vaccine mandate was a preventative action taken to prevent a spike in cases this winter. The mandate was the first in the nation to omit the option of weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees. “I am 110% convinced this was the right thing to do, remains the right thing to do, particularly with the ferocity of Omicron,” de Blasio stated on December 27th.


During de Blasio’s last week as mayor, it remained unclear whether his successor, Eric Adams, would endorse the mandate. On December 30th, Adams declared his intention to keep the mandate in place, a decision that de Blasio applauded on Twitter as “THE right call.”


Resistance to the mandate was exceedingly high in Staten Island, a majority right-wing borough, where lawyers have committed to challenging the law in court. Many business owners throughout NYC also criticized Adams’ decision to keep the mandate. Despite these small pockets of opposition, there has been very little widespread resistance, likely because the overwhelming majority of adult New Yorkers are already vaccinated.


As of early March 2022, NYC dropped many of its vaccine mandates, especially for indoor leisure and hospitality venues and private sector workers. However, Adams has decided to keep the obligation for municipal employees, and it is unclear whether this will be lifted anytime soon.