New York City will make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all its officials, adding police and firefighters to a list that already contained caregivers and teachers, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
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“The obligation comes into force on November 1 for all the city’s labor forces, including the police, firefighters and garbage collectors”, indicates the town hall, specifying that it will “immediately begin impact negotiations with the unions concerned ”.
The only exception are prison wardens, for whom the obligation is postponed to December 1, because of staffing problems at Rikers Island prison, where the deterioration of detention conditions has been singled out many times in recent weeks. .
To motivate the troops, the town hall promises that those who will receive their first dose before October 29 will have a bonus of 500 dollars on their payslip. But after this period, recalcitrant officials will see their remuneration suspended “as long as they have not shown their proof of vaccination to their hierarchical superior”, explains the Democratic town hall.
According to its figures, 71% of the 160,000 employees of the city affected by this obligation have already received at least one dose of vaccine, which currently leaves around 46,000 personnel unvaccinated.
Until now, the strict obligation only concerned certain professions, such as teachers and caregivers – among which the town hall claims vaccination rates now above 95% -, the others having until now the choice between getting the vaccine or having a negative test every week to go to work.
Bruised by the pandemic, which brought the American cultural and economic capital to its knees in 2020, New York had already made the vaccine compulsory for many indoor activities, from restaurants to theaters and gyms. More than 34,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the city of more than 8 million people.
Other cities and states have taken similar action in the United States. In Chicago, this obligation has given rise to a standoff between the town hall and the police, their main union having called on them to refuse to reveal whether they have been vaccinated or not, at a time when the city is experiencing an increase in crime. .
In Texas, by contrast, the Republican governor banned all entities in his state, including private companies, from making vaccination mandatory.