Councilor Vickie Paladino was allowed to vote in person at City Hall for the first time Thursday after receiving a waiver from the city’s vaccination mandate.
Council officials confirmed that Paladino (R-Queens) – who has refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – would be allowed back into the body’s chambers after receiving opt-outs from Council legal staff and a negative coronavirus test.
The measures after the newly trained lawmaker was heavily criticized by Jewish groups for comparing New York’s vaccination mandates and passport policies with Nazi Germany before finally apologizing for the remarks.
“Councilor Paladino has a dispensation and she has been tested so she is allowed on the spot,” newly-appointed council president Adrienne Adams told reporters.
Paladino declined to answer questions about how she qualified for the dispensation and how often she should be tested. Previously, she participated externally in cases via a video link coup.
The leader of the chamber’s Republican caucus, minority leader Joe Borelli, said Paladino received opt-outs from the council’s legal staff, but also declined to give further details.
The Speaker’s Office could not immediately provide details – including how often Paladino needs to be tested to gain access.
Adams continues to pursue policies implemented by her predecessor, Corey Johnson, who demanded that lawmakers and staff be vaccinated and wear masks during personal meetings at City Hall.
A number of data collected by the city’s Ministry of Health show that the vaccines are effective in slowing the spread of COVID and significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization or death.
The maneuvers came a week after Paladino ignited a firestorm by comparing the Council’s vaccine policies – which reflect demands from City Hall to its workforce and private employers – with Adolph Hitler’s terror regime.
“I do not have to show you my papers. This is not Nazi Germany,” said the legislator to NY1 in a television interview last week.
She later apologized for the remarks.