- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2021

A group of businesses including restaurants and gyms has sued New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week over his executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for people going indoors for dining, workouts and entertainment.  

They claim the requirement to show proof of vaccination is arbitrary, unconstitutional and does not provide accommodations for individuals who cannot get the shot.

The 18-page lawsuit filed in state court on Tuesday asks the judge to halt the mayor’s order, saying it’s more burdensome than prior COVID-19 mandates issued at the height of the pandemic, which have caused businesses financial distress.

“As more medical and scientific data became available, New York City did not adopt regulations ‘more carefully accounting for constitutional rights,’ ” the lawsuit read. “Instead, the mayor implemented even more arbitrary executive orders, trampling more recklessly on constitutional rights.”

With the delta variation of COVID-19 sending national infection rates soaring again, Mr. de Blasio’s order went into effect this week. If a business violates the requirement, it could face a more than $1,000 fine. The fines will begin to be imposed Sept. 13.

The order argues that the requirement to show proof of receiving at least one COVID-19 shot is needed because of the delta variant, noting “some of these new variants currently account for the majority of COVID-19 cases sequenced in New York City and are much more transmissible than earlier variants.”

Fifty-six percent of the city’s residents have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccinations, while 62% had at least one shot.

Irene Siderakis, owner of Kellogg’s Diner in Brooklyn, told Fox News she is hurt by the mayor’s new mandate.

“He is creating division,” she said. “I feel that my liberties have been taken away from me.”

Mr. de Blasio told reporters Wednesday that he has “tremendous confidence that we’re in a very good legal position.”

“We’re in a global pandemic still,” he said, defending his order and suggesting the mandate is a way to motivate more vaccinations. 

“The decisions that have been taken, have been taken with the leadership of our health officials who have been fighting this battle from the beginning. And we know we must get more people vaccinated and strategically focusing on the ways to get more people vaccinated — particularly focusing on young people where there’s been a real gap — so we can stop the spread of the delta variant is mission critical. It is about public health and safety. Absolutely certain, this is a way we will achieve those goals,” the mayor added. 

San Francisco, New Orleans and Los Angeles are also expected to implement a vaccine mandate for people entering restaurants and gyms, according to Forbes.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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