- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2023

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Monday that COVID-19 vaccination will be optional for city workers as of Feb. 10, arguing the mandate “served its purpose” by increasing uptake during the worst of the pandemic.

Mr. Adams, a Democrat, said the decision is pending ratification by the city Board of Health, but he expects to lift the requirement. He said nearly all of the city workforce is considered fully vaccinated.

“With more than 96% of city workers and more than 80% 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,” he said. “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.”

The reversal is likely to spark debate over the status of 1,780 city workers who were booted from their jobs for refusing to show proof of vaccination for the virus.

Mr. Adams said ousted workers will not be able to automatically return to their previous positions. Instead, they can apply for positions with their former agencies through existing city rules and regulations and hiring processes.

The city’s vaccine requirements, which began under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, were a constant source of tension between the city government and its workers.

When Mr. Adams created a carveout for professional athletes who worked in the city but refused the COVID-19 shots, critics said city workers who balked at the vaccine should get the same relief.

Leaders across the country who cracked down hard during the pandemic are grappling with how to unwind pandemic rules.

The Biden administration, for instance, says the worst is over because there are fine-tuned booster shots and treatments available for COVID-19. At the same time, it is not canceling its emergency pandemic powers until May, saying states and the medical system need a long off-ramp.

Also, the administration is fighting in court to preserve its power to impose mask mandates on airline passengers, even though it has largely moved on from pursuing actual mandates.

In New York, Mr. Adams said the city is also ending COVID-19 vaccine requirements for nonpublic schools, early child care, and day care staff.

People who visit public school buildings will no longer have to show proof of having at least one vaccine dose. Mr. Adams said relaxing the rule would allow more family members and loved ones to attend school activities, celebrations and events.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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