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New York City to end vaccine mandate for city workers this week

CNN 2/7/2023 Sydney Kashiwagi

New York City this week will end a controversial Covid-19 vaccine mandate for city employees, ending a policy that has at times pitted the city’s leadership against its municipal workforce.

The mandate, which has prompted numerous lawsuits, is set to end on Friday after the city’s Board of Health adopts amendments to the city’s vaccination policy, City Hall said in a news release.

“With more than 96% of city workers and more than 80 percent of New Yorkers having received their primary Covid-19 series and more tools readily available to keep us healthy, this is the right moment for this decision. I continue to urge every New Yorker to get vaccinated, get boosted, and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and those around them from Covid-19,” Democratic Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.

Additionally, visitors to Department of Education school buildings will no longer be required to show proof of having at least one dose of the vaccine, the release said.

The roughly 1,780 city workers who were terminated for not complying with the mandate will not be automatically reinstated and will have to reapply for their old jobs, the city said.

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Covid-19 vaccine requirement for all city workers in summer 2021 and it took effect that September. Employees who did not comply with the vaccine requirement or submit to weekly testing for Covid-19 risked losing their jobs.

At the time, the policy was met with opposition from the city’s police and firefighter unions, which called the requirement an intrusion into personal health decisions. Last fall, a New York state judge reinstated 16 fire sanitation workers who did not comply with the mandate, saying the order to get vaccinated violated the New York Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine, was arbitrary and capricious and violated the fired workers’ equal protection and due process rights.

In early November, Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected a request from group that sought to block New York City’s vaccine requirement for city workers who had religious objections to the vaccine.

Late last year, Adams ended similar vaccine mandates for student athletes and private sector employees while keeping the requirement for city workers in place.

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