A New York governor has announced plans to redefine “fully vaccinated” to mean having received three doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. The announcement comes as the Omicron variant of the virus is reported to be spreading across the United States and the rest of the world.
At a press conference on 16th December, Governor Kathy Hochul said that she plans to introduce legislation to change the definition of fully vaccinated to include the booster shot. She said: “At some point, we have to determine that fully vaccinated means boosted as well. We’ll give people a sufficient time frame to make that happen.”
She added that the change would not be sought until more data is gathered and the legislation is further scrutinised. Although, Hochul said that the new definition may be presented shortly.
“People are underestimating the power of omicron because they say ‘People aren’t getting sick, they aren’t going to hospitals.’ But if you have a million more people infected, that means you will have overflowing hospitals at this rate,” she said.
In response to the Omicron variant, the governor imposed a statewide mask mandate for all indoor venues on December 10th. Following this, the policy went into effect on December 13th ad will remain in place until January 15th, 2022.
Businesses that fail to comply with such measures could face civil and criminal penalties with a maximum fine of $1,000 per violation. However, if the establishment already has a vaccine mandate in place, a mask mandate would not apply.
During the press conference, Hochul spoke directly to businesses, stating: “This is a crisis; this is a healthcare crisis and people are going to die. The facility does not have to close. That will hurt them economically; that is not the place I want to go.”
The governor stated that the mask mandate would not have been put in place had people gotten vaccinated against Covid-19 early in the pandemic.
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