NYC Vaccine Mandate Blocked by Judge in Blow to Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for New York City employees, including the NYPD, has been blocked by a Manhattan court.

On Tuesday, Judge Frank P. Nervo in the Supreme Court of New York gave notice that the mandate was suspended, pending a hearing scheduled for December 14.

Patricia Finn, an attorney who describes herself on Twitter as "The Good Health Lawyer New Yotk (sic)," launched the legal challenge against the mayor's mandate. She regularly espouses anti-vaccination views on her social media accounts.

In one Facebook post, Finn wrote: "Please DO NOT support lockdowns for the unvaccinated. It garners support for lockdowns and punishment for whoever these bureaucrats deem 'dangerous'."

On October 20, de Blasio imposed the order that required all city employees to have at least their first shot by October 29, or face being suspended without pay. It affected roughly 160,000 employees and was met with much opposition. Police and firefighter union leaders warned that the rule would lead to staff shortages.

New York City has administered more than 12.5 million vaccination doses so far, with 89 percent of adults having had at least one dose. More than 125,000 children aged 5-11 have also had at least one dose. At the height of the pandemic, the city's 7-day daily average of COVID deaths hit 829 but, on Tuesday, that figure was down to 11 deaths.

On November 1, de Blasio said the city workers mandate was working and vaccination rates had risen to 85 percent for the NYPD, 88 per cent for emergency medical services, 83 percent for the sanitation department and 77 per cent for firefighters.

On Monday, de Blasio announced a vaccine mandate for private sector workers, which was expected to take effect on December 27 and apply to roughly 184,000 businesses, according to a statement from the City of New York.

The mayor also announced major expansions to its "Key to NYC" program, which involves getting as many residents vaccinated as possible so the city can return to normal operations. As part of the program, New Yorkers 18 or older are required to show identification and proof of vaccination to partake in indoor activities.

The expansion also obliges children aged 5-11 to provide proof of vaccination to enter indoor dining, fitness, entertainment and performance venues. Those changes are due to come into effect on December 14.

This age group will also be required to get vaccinated to participate in "high-risk extracurricular activities," including sports, orchestra and dance.

From December 27, New Yorkers aged 12 and older will be required to show proof of two vaccine doses, instead of one, except for those who have received the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine.

In a statement on Monday, de Blasio said: "New York City will not give a single inch in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe.

"From workplace mandates, to $100 incentives, to mobile and at-home vaccination offerings, no place in the nation has done more to end the COVID era. And if you have not taken this step yet: there's no better day than today to stand up for your city."

A CDC-issued vaccination card will be accepted as proof of vaccine, as well as the New York state Excelsior Pass, the Clear Health Pass and the NYC COVID Safe App.

Newsweek has contacted de Blasio's office for comment on the court action.

Update 12/08/21, 5:30 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add information about Patricia Finn.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation on the Upper West Side, New York City, on November 24. The mayor is also planning a mandate for private sector workers. Alexi Rosefeld/Getty