New York

Judge Bans New York State from Sacking Health Care Workers Who Refuse to Get Jabbed on Religious Grounds

Following reports that aborted fetal tissue is being used to develop Covid vaccines, a U.S. judge has granted a preliminary injunction allowing health care workers in New York to avoid ‘no jab, no job’ rules on religious grounds. The state’s Govenor says she will “fight this decision” to “keep New Yorkers safe”. MailOnline has the story.

U.S. District Judge David Hurd made the ruling on Tuesday after 17 Catholic and Baptist health care workers sued the state last month, saying they objected to being forced to take a vaccine that used “fetal cell lines” from “procured abortions”.

The order prohibits the New York State Department of Health from interfering with religious exemptions or taking disciplinary action against workers who have sought or obtained them.

Govenor Kathy Hochul, responding to the order, said she backs the vaccine mandate, whose original deadline was September 27th, with the state’s 450,000 medical and care staff expected to have received at least one vaccine dose by that date.

“My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that. I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe,” she wrote in a statement.

According to the injunction, which was obtained by CNN, the state health department is “barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from Covid vaccination going forward, or with the operation of exemptions already granted”.

The organisation is also prohibited from taking any action on licenses, certifications, residency or other professional status for workers who seek or have obtained religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.

Christopher Ferrara, the lead counsel for plaintiffs in the case applauded the judge’s ruling.

“With this decision the court rightly recognised that yesterday’s ‘front line heroes’ in dealing with Covid cannot suddenly be treated as disease-carrying villains and kicked to the curb by the command of a state health bureaucracy,” he said in a statement obtained by the news outlet.

Worth reading in full.

New York to Relax Rules on Mask-Wearing – with Many Conditions Attached

New York is set to conform with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and relax its mask mandate on Wednesday. This relaxation will only apply to vaccinated New Yorkers holding vaccine passports. In “settings where vaccination status of individuals is unknown”, masks will still have to be worn, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. Mask-wearing will also still be required (including by those who are vaccinated) in a number of other settings. The Epoch Times has more.

The Democrat [Governor Cuomo] initially resisted altering his state’s guidance, saying officials needed to review the CDC’s updates.

Consistent with the CDC’s guidance, New York will still require masks for every public transportation rider and all people who enter nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools, and health care buildings.

The state isn’t letting private businesses eliminate a requirement of six feet of social distancing between small groups or individuals unless all patrons within the business, or a separate designated part of the establishment, present proof of vaccination.

Patrons can use the state’s Excelsior Pass, a vaccine passport system, use a different digital application, or show a paper document.

New York has increasingly begun treating the vaccinated and unvaccinated differently. Major stadiums, for instance, are requiring unvaccinated fans to sit separately from those who have gotten a Covid shot. And a reopening of the Tribeca Festival will only allow vaccinated attendees, the governor announced on May 17th.

“We do want to say directly: 100% [capacity] at Radio City Music Hall. So if I’m not vaccinated, I can’t go,” he said. “If you’re vaccinated, yes, you come to Radio City Music Hall. And if you’re unvaccinated, that’s your choice. But you can’t go into the Radio City Music Hall with vaccinated people.”

Cuomo had previously announced that many capacity restrictions would end in New York and surrounding states.

Worth reading in full.

Only 10% of Manhattan’s Office Workers Return to Workplace

Reports earlier this week that “hybrid working” could become “the norm” following lockdowns have been confirmed in Manhattan, where only 10% of office workers have returned to the workplace. The Financial Times has the story.

Just 10% of Manhattan’s one million office workers had returned to the workplace by early March, according to a study indicating that most of them will still be working remotely by September.

The survey of large employers by the Partnership for New York City, a business advocacy group, suggests that Manhattan offices are still as empty as they were last October.

Expectations for returning to the office have slipped since then, however: while employers polled last October expected to bring back 48% of their office staff by July, they now anticipate having just 45% back at their desks by September.

Over the longer term, employers expect 56% of their office staff to continue working remotely at least part of the time.

On Wednesday, workspace provider IWG (formerly Regus) said “[hybrid working] works for companies, because it’s a lot cheaper”. But is the amount of money saved from making staff work at home greater than the reported cost of reduced productivity that this causes?

Worth reading in full.