On December 6, 2021, outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced major expansions to New York’s “Key to NYC” program, which was implemented through Emergency Executive Order 225 and became effective on August 17, 2021. The mayor also announced a first-in-the-nation vaccination mandate for private-sector workers in New York City, which is set to take effect on December 27, 2021. Additional guidance on these expansive mandates is expected on December 15, 2021.

Private-Sector Vaccine Mandate

The mayor has announced that New York City will implement a “first-in-the-nation,” vaccine mandate for private-sector workers. The mandate is currently set to take effect on December 27, 2021. The mayor estimates that approximately 184,000 businesses would be affected. A spokesperson for Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who is due to take office on January 1, 2022, just days after the mandate is set to take effect, has indicated that the mayor-elect will evaluate the mandate when he takes office and will “make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals.”

Key to NYC Expanded

Under the existing Key to NYC program, staff and patrons who enter certain types of indoor entertainment, recreation, dining, and fitness establishments are required to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Previously, children under the age of 12, along with certain other individuals were exempt from showing proof of vaccination.

Beginning on December 14, 2021, children ages 5-11 will be required to show proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to enter the covered establishments mentioned above. While individuals were previously only required to show proof of one dose of the vaccine, beginning on December 27, individuals in New York City over the age of 12 will now be required to show proof of two doses of the vaccine.

High-Risk Extracurricular Activities

The mayor also announced that vaccinations would be required for children ages 5-11 if they wish to participate in “high-risk extracurricular activities.” These activities are currently defined as “sports, band, orchestra, and dance.” Children in this age group will be required to have the initial vaccine dose by December 14, 2021.

Key Takeaways

Employers in New York City may wish to review the above requirements to ensure that their practices comply with the obligations articulated in the anticipated mandates. Employers may also want to stay updated as the Key to NYC and the private-sector vaccine mandate continues to evolve.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the Key to NYC mandate and pending injunction and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.