As the city of New York prepares to implement the most far-reaching COVID vaccine mandate in the country, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says that her administration has no plans of enacting a similar requirement in the city.
The new mandate, which will require all private employers in New York City to institute vaccine requirements for their employees, will go into effect later this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
“We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us,” he said.
During a press availability Monday, Lightfoot said that she does not anticipate putting a similar mandate into effect in Chicago, saying that there are real questions over whether such a requirement would pass judicial scrutiny.
“We will not see that here in the city of Chicago,” she said. “And frankly there’s a question of whether something like that is going to sustain what will invariably come as judicial review.”
Lightfoot, whose administration has required all city employees to either be vaccinated against COVID or to submit to bi-weekly testing, says that she appreciates the efforts of numerous businesses and venues to implement a variety of requirements for customers and attendees, including those that require a COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter a place of business.
"I’m encouraged, and I’m encouraging employers of all types to make sure that they’re doing everything they can to maximize safety in their workplaces like we have done," she said.
With COVID cases on the rise, and with the emergence of the omicron variant in the United States, Lightfoot says that taking steps to encourage vaccinations and social distancing are key to keeping residents safe.
“The pandemic is real. It is not going away," she said. "We are watching with great interest the developments and the science that’s being done around the omicron variant.”
De Blasio, a Democrat with just weeks left in office, has said New York's mandate will take effect Dec. 27, with in-person workers needing to provide proof they have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The mayor also said employees will not be allowed to get out of the requirement by agreeing to regular COVID-19 testing instead.
The measure will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses not covered by previous vaccine mandates, ranging from multinational corporations to mom-and-pop businesses in the city of 8.8 million people, according to a spokesperson for the mayor. The city's private-sector workforce is 3.7 million.
Also, anyone 12 or older who wants to dine indoors at a restaurant, go to a gym or see a show will have to produce proof of having received two shots of the vaccine, up from the current requirement of one dose, the mayor said. And children 5 to 11 will have to show proof of at least one shot.
This story contains reporting from the Associated Press