By Steve Bittenbender (The Center Square)

Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that private employers in the nation’s largest city will face a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for their workers.

The mayor made the surprise announcement on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and said the order will take effect Dec. 27, the last week of de Blasio’s term in office.

In a tweet, de Blasio said New York City has been a world leader in recovering from the pandemic. The way to “beat the virus” is by requiring shots and providing incentives for those who get them.

“Now we’re taking another step towards the future – a private sector employee vaccine mandate,” he said on the social media site. “Together, we can save lives and move forward.”

The citywide employer mandate comes a week after the first case of the Omicron variant was found in the country. By Thursday, five cases were identified in New York City and another in Minnesota from an individual who attended an anime convention in Manhattan.

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Over the weekend, the number of new variant cases rose to 10 in the state.

According to de Blasio, Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi will formally announce the mandate later Monday. The mayor added other steps will be unveiled to let the city “focus on maximizing vaccinations quickly” to contain the Omicron variant.

It’s uncertain if New York City’s private employer mandate will include medical and religious exemptions like those found in the orders for municipal workers. Still, the directive will almost certainly face legal challenges.

Vaccine mandates have faced legal challenges in New York City, New York state and elsewhere across the country. While the Biden Administration’s mandates have been blocked, at least temporarily, in federal courts, New York City has won cases on its mandates in state and federal courts.

On MSNBC, de Blasio said he’s confident the city will prevail because the city’s mandate will be universal.

“They’re about protecting the public right now from a clear and present danger,” he said.

The final day for de Blasio in office is Dec. 31. Mayor-elect Eric Adams takes over on Jan. 1.

A message to Adams’ transition team was not immediately returned Monday morning.

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.