Judges temporarily block vaccine mandates for NYC teachers, NY medical workers

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — Two court rulings on Tuesday could have big impacts on New York vaccine mandates, with directives from both the state and city governments temporarily on hold by orders of two different judges.

On Wednesday, the leaders of the state and the city responded, saying that they believe the mandates will eventually go forward.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Aug. 23 ordered New York City public school teachers and staff must get vaccinated for the new academic year.

The city’s mandate said the Department of Education employees had until Sept. 27 to get at least one dose of the vaccine.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city is convinced that its mandates will prevail.  

New York Supreme Court Judge Laurence Love on Tuesday issued a restraining order against the mayor’s mandate, temporarily blocking the city from enforcing it.

“We’re employers,” he said.  “We have a right to keep our workforce safe and healthy. We feel all those factors make very clear the correctness of our position.”

The ruling against de Blasio’s mandate came after several municipal unions sued the city.

“While we do believe our members should get the vaccine, we do not believe it should be a condition of employment,” District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said in a statement. “Clearly, the court agrees,” he added.

The court set a Sept. 22 hearing date for both sides to hash it out.

DC 37 is also pushing back against a city requirement that all city employees, including 80,000 non-essential workers, be at their jobs in person, with no option to work remotely. The so-called return-to-work order went into effect on Monday. The union has now filed a petition against that order. The matter is now before the city’s Office of Collective Bargaining.

“We’re seeking for a delay until at least Oct. 12, which is when the state has ordered [its] workers to come back,” said Garrido in an interview on Wednesday. “We would like a safe return for the workers. We want to make sure that the offices get a clean bill of health, that we’re not exposing our members to a COVID-19 situation.” 

PIX11 reached out to City Hall for comment but had not heard back as of early Wednesday morning.

Also on Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the state’s mandate forcing medical workers to be vaccinated after a group of health care workers sued, saying their constitutional rights were violated.

Judge David Hurd in Utica issued the order Tuesday after 17 health professionals, including doctors and nurses, claimed the vaccine mandate violated their rights because it disallows religious exemptions. 

The judge gave the state until Sept. 22 to respond to the lawsuit.

The state issued the order Aug. 28, requiring at least a first shot for health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes by Sept. 27.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday said the state plans to appeal any court rulings against the mandates.

The governor also said that she believes the mandates are smart and are working to convince more health care workers to get vaccinated who were on the fence.

As far as religious exemptions, Hochul said she’s not personally aware of any sanctioned exemption from any major organized religion.

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