New York City will soon be the first major city in the country to require proof of vaccination for indoor dining, performances and gyms, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.
The policy will go into effect on August 16, but inspections and enforcement won’t begin until September 13, the week that the city’s public schools reopen for the fall.
‘This is a miraculous place full of wonders, and if you’re vaccinated, all of that is gonna open up to you,’ de Blasio said.
Those looking to catch a Broadway show or get in a morning workout will need to pull out a CDC vaccination card or an app like the Excelsior Pass proving that they’ve had at least one jab of one of a Covid vaccine.
It’s the most aggressive step the city has taken yet to curb a surge in cases caused by the Delta variant.
The mayor touted the ‘Key to NYC Pass’ as a ‘first-in-the-nation’ approach.
‘The only way to patronize these establishments indoors will be if you’re vaccinated,’ de Blasio said.
‘The goal here is to convince everyone that this is the time. If we’re going to stop the Delta variant, the time is now. And that means getting vaccinated right now.’
De Blasio has focused on getting as many New Yorkers vaccinated as possible while resisting calls to mandate masks indoors, as several cities and counties in California have done.
During a press conference Monday, the mayor stood firm on pushing with vaccination efforts instead of reverting to the mask mandates of yesteryear.
‘The overwhelming strategic thrust is vaccination,’ the mayor said yesterday.
‘We think the right mix is to heavily focus on vaccination and continue to climb that leader and also give a very clear message, strongly recommending mask usage.
‘Mask wearing is not a substitute for vaccination.’
The comments came after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he ‘strongly’ recommended a mask mandate in the city, echoing the CDC’s latest guidance that vaccinated people should wear mask indoors to prevent the spread of the aggressive Delta variant.
Some businesses are already one step ahead of the mayor.
In an email to members on Monday, the high-end gym chain Equinox and its subsidiary SoulCycle announced that customers will have to show proof of vaccination to enter its studios and gyms.
De Blasio said Tuesday that he did not think checking vaccination status should be too difficult for businesses, which already have to take tickets or show diners to a table.
But Sean Ogs, manager of the Woodside Cafe in Queens, said he was ‘floored’ when he heard the news.
‘We’ve already been in a struggle. I don’ know how I’m going to deal with it,’ Ogs said.
‘It’s going to be extra work. It’ll make things impossible.’
Debbie McCarthy, a regular at the Woodside Cafe who is unvaccinated, said she was turned away over the weekend from several establishments that had already begun requiring proof of vaccinations from patrons.
‘I’m a little shocked they would do that,’ said McCarthy, who said she recovered from Covid a few months ago and believes her natural antibodies will protect from future infections.
‘Why are they so afraid of people who haven’t been vaccinated? I think we should have a choice.’
About 66 percent of adults in New York City are fully vaccinated, with another 5.6 percent partially vaccinated, according to official data.
The Democrat said some details of how the program will work still need to be worked out.
Vaccination cards will be accepted as proof of inoculation, along with state and city apps.
At Variety Coffee Roasters in Bushwick, Brooklyn, patrons sat unmasked on benches and tables throughout the café Tuesday afternoon.
‘There’s a lot of people in certain communities that haven’t been vaccinated yet, so I think it’s a little discriminatory,’ said store manager Iaisha Munnerlyn, ‘but that’s the world we live in.’
Munnerlyn says there’s been a lot of changes in Covid restrictions in recent months, but she feels confident her team can check vaccination cards.
‘It’s the job,’ she said. ‘At the end of the day, you just sometimes gotta do something you don’t want to do.’
At Veselka, a Ukrainian diner on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, manager Nick Solovev says his restaurant will follow ‘whatever mandate is given,’ but that he hasn’t heard much when it comes to instructions from the government.
‘It’s one of those things – everyone is dealing with this for the first time – so no, we’re not ready for it, but we’re just waiting for more details to come through,’ he said.
Tuesday’s announcement spurred a flurry of reactions on social media, ranging from anger at the perceived government overreach to relief that people are finally being pushed to inoculate themselves.
‘What happened to human rights?’ one person asked on Twitter. ‘It’s only a matter of time before this expands to other states.’
‘Y’all sheep a** just relinquishing all your rights for a vaccine that’s not FDA approved,’ said one user.
Others took a more optimistic tone.
‘If you wanna see alllllll [sic] this, go get vaccinated,’ one person said above photos of someone in front of various New York City landmarks .
De Blasio announced last week that city employees would be required to get vaccinated by mid-September or to face weekly testing, and he has offered a $100 incentive for city residents who get inoculated.
On Monday, the US reached President Joe Biden’s goal of getting at least one Covid shot into 70 percent of American adults – a month late and amid a surge by the Delta variant that is overwhelming hospitals and prompting renewed pandemic regulations around the country.
Vaccinated people are far less likely to become ill with or die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people are, but half of the country’s total population remains unvaccinated, and the variant is three times as contagious as previous strains.
Story cited here.