Will New York go into lockdown?

State and city officials have said there won’t be major lockdowns just yet

New York Braces For Omicron Outbreak Ahead Of Holidays

The Omicron variant has arrived with a vengeance in New York, bringing back fears that the city and state may once again become one of the epicentres of the coronavirus pandemic.

New York City, home to one fifth of the state’s reported Omicron cases, has seen its rolling weekly Covid case average rise nearly 100 per cent over the past four weeks, with Covid hospitalisations up 21 per cent in that same time. State-wide, New York has seen record single-day case numbers Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And the proportion of Omicron circulating within the state is almost certainly under-reported, according to health officials.

But so far, the Empire State doesn’t seem likely to head back into widespread lockdowns like 2020.

Outgoing New York mayor Bill de Blasio said his administration is using “every tool we have”, but wouldn’t yet resort to last year’s widespread lockdowns.

"We’re going to have a challenging few weeks, but the good news is based on everything our healthcare leadership understands at this moment, we are talking about a matter of weeks," Mr de Blasio said on Monday, adding, ​​“We cannot let those restrictions come back, we cannot have shutdowns here in New York City, we got to keep moving forward.”

New York governor Kathy Hochul struck a similar tone on Friday, pointing to early indications that while the Omicron variant may appear to spread more quickly than the now-dominant Delta strain, many cases thus far appear to be mild.

“This spreads quickly, but it’s not as dangerous,” she said on Friday. “So while my number one goal is to protect the health of New Yorkers, I also want to protect the health of the economy.”

Around 82 per cent of adults in New York City are vaccinated, well above the national average, and the city is planning further restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.

On 27 December, all private sector employers will face a new vaccine mandate with no opt-outs for regular testing instead, a policy expected to touch 184,000 business.

Additionally, all those 12 and older will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated to access indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment, and those under 12 will be required to prove having had one dose. School children will also need vaccine proof for extracurriculars like sports.

The previous year, with its mix of thousands of deaths and intermittent lockdowns, devastated New York City economically, causing the Big Apple to shed more than 630,000 jobs in 2020. Those are greater losses than any time in the city’s recorded post-WWII history, including the Great Recession.

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