Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
With new NYC rules requiring proof of vaccination before dining in or going to the gym, it appears highly likely that NYC TLC drivers will need to be vaccinated or show a negative COVID test
Back in February, just when the vaccine rollout was beginning for NYC TLC drivers, I wrote a piece entitled NYC Can Now Vaccinate TLC Drivers. How Could This Play Out? In that piece I discussed two dynamics that I thought could play out:
- Uber and Lyft would encourage vaccination and penalize those who don’t get vaccinated
- The NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) would create rules related to public safety and unvaccinated drivers
I concluded the article in February as follows.
Let’s see how it all plays out, but I believe we are entering a world where a COVID vaccine “passport” will be required to do many jobs, attend events and interact in many public spaces. Given the NYC for-hire transportation industry is a sector that involves a variety of close in-person interactions, I can’t see how the industry can avoid some sort of new requirements related to the vaccine.
Will NYC TLC Drivers Be Forced To Get Vaccinated? Is That Legal?
With the recent news that NYC will require individuals to show proof of vaccination (i.e., COVID passport) in order to dine indoors, go to the gym and attend performances, it almost seems inevitable that some sort of for-hire transportation guidance is imminent. The new NYC rules went into effect on August 16th and enforcement (NYC Health Department…not NYPD) will start from September 13th. In addition, given the recent announcement that all MTA / Port Authority workers will be required to get a COVID vaccine or be tested weekly starting Labor Day, it seems increasingly likely that the NYC TLC is set to announce driver and passenger vaccine guidance soon.
The new NYC vaccine rules will likely face legal challenges, which could delay the City’s ability to officially enforce them. However, with rising Delta variant cases, pushback to the new rules may be muted.
Outside of City government, including the TLC, another potential source of vaccine guidance could come from rideshare giants Uber and Lyft. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi believes the company’s office workers should be vaccinated ahead of returning to the office. While he also believes Uber drivers and passengers should be vaccinated, he acknowledges that the company cannot practically enforce such rules. He believes any vaccination requirements can only come from governments.
“It would only be fair to require vaccines for both riders and driver…We’ve got over 100 million riders and drivers constantly moving around together on a monthly basis and we think that the push, which we completely support, should be for the government to get people vaccinated, everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible so we can get back to life…To put that responsibility, that kind of decision-making power, on a company, I don’t think is right. I think these mandates if they’re pushed should be pushed by local or federal governments, and that’s really the direction that we’re going with”
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Whether it is legal to require NYC TLC drivers to take the vaccine or not seems like a gray area of the law that may face challenges. My guess – NYC TLC drivers will not be able to perform trips without showing proof of vaccination OR a negative COVID test that drivers would bear the cost of.
What do you think? Do you think NYC TLC drivers will be forced to take the vaccine?