New York City began enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Monday, Sept. 13. De Blasio warned that those who willingly do not follow his rules will face consequences.
The vaccine mandate requires establishments to verify that potential patrons have been vaccinated using vaccine passports. They must also put up signs telling people they need to be fully vaccinated to enter their premises.
Private establishments that are covered by the new mandates include movie theaters, concert venues, museums, sports venues, gyms, pools, restaurants and bars. (Related: New York abolishes religious exemption for covid vaccine mandate.)
Any establishments refusing to enforce the mandates will be fined starting at $1,000. This will increase to $5,000 per violation for repeat offenders.
On the same day the vaccine mandate began being enforced, thousands of anti-mandate protesters converged on Foley Square in Manhattan to protest the new regulations.
The protest was organized by Teachers for Choice, an organization made up of hundreds of current and former schoolteachers and parents who are opposed to making being vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for continued employment.
While at Foley Square, the group began chanting "We will not comply," and "Save New York."
One of the speakers who appeared at the Foley Square rally was Del Bigtree, founder and CEO of the anti-vaccine group Informed Consent Action Network.
"I told you over seven months ago, this vaccine does not work," said Bigtree, to booming applause from the crowd. "That's why it's so terrifying that I'm the only one getting it right."
After all the speakers had spoken, the group dispersed and many were seen marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. Many of the protesters were even heard chanting "F--k Joe Biden" while they were crossing the bridge.
Many others were carrying signs that read. Some of them read "Last year's heroes, this year's unemployed," "My body, my choice," and "I call the shots."
"I have lived and worked in this city as a civil servant for 28 years of my life," said retired teacher Amy Carroll. "I should be able to make my own health decisions and make a decision that doesn't affect my employment, that doesn't affect my right to go to a restaurant, or a Broadway play, or a museum."
"I think what they're doing in America, they're taking away our rights about all decisions, medical decisions, we're standing here we're letting the government take over everything," added Amy's husband, Bill, who is also a retired teacher.
"I came with a bunch of teachers from a school in Whitestone, Queens. We're here because of the mandates, some of us are even vaccinated," said teacher Alycia Morell. "We're fighting the mandate and we don't want the children to have to be mandated for vaccines – so we're fighting for everybody, not just ourselves."
Wade Willett, a former science teacher, said he did not trust De Blasio or the vaccine mandate, and that he resigned from teaching for good because of him. "I had COVID in March of 2020 and I recovered from it, so I felt I'm immune. I'm a science teacher, and they said, 'You're not [immune].'"
Teachers for Choice said if the city does not listen to the demands of thousands of New Yorkers and roll back the vaccine mandate, it will have no choice but to file a lawsuit against the city.
But De Blasio is unlikely to budge. The mayor has stated that he stands by his decision to mandate that all employees of the Department of Education working in New York City have to get vaccinated by Sept. 27.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the groups like Teachers for Choice who are organizing against at Resist.news.