New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Monday introduced a new vaccine mandate for private businesses as part of the broader efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19, including the newly-identified omicron variant.

So far, at least eight cases of omicron have been confirmed in New York State.

“We’ve got omicron as a new factor. We’ve got the colder weather which is going to really create additional challenges with the delta variant, we’ve got holiday gatherings,” de Blasio, whose term ends next month, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “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.”

The new mandate “will take effect on December 27” and “will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses” across the five boroughs, the mayor 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,” de Blasio said in a statement. “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.”

The move is part of a broader update to the metropolis’s “Key to NYC” program that requires workers and customers of indoor dining, fitness, entertainment and performance venues to show proof of vaccination.

In addition, beginning on December 14, Key to NYC “will require children aged 5-11 to show proof of one vaccination dose for those venues,” the announcement said, adding that “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 vaccine” starting on December 27.

“Our youngest kids, we got to reach them now. Right now in this city, it’s about 20% have gotten to that stage in that 5 to 11 range. The vaccine is relatively new,” the mayor said. “But what we’re trying to say to parents is it’s urgent. Before omicron grows, before delta continues to stress us even worse in the winter months, get your kid vaccinated. And here’s an incentive to do it.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for incoming Mayor-Elect Eric Adams (D), who will be sworn in on January 1, said that Adams “will evaluate this mandate and other Covid strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals.”

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