New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that certain indoor businesses – including all indoor restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms, will require proof of vaccination.
“It’s time for people to see vaccination as necessary to living a good and full and healthy life,” said de Blasio during his daily press briefing.
The program, which the mayor named the “Key to NYC Pass,” makes New York the first major U.S. city to create such a mandate and reflects a notable increase in the city’s efforts to curb the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases triggered by the Delta variant. The initiative will begin on Aug. 16, said the mayor.
The mandate will require vaccination for workers and customers in indoor dining (not including outdoor dining), indoor entertainment facilities, and indoor fitness centers. “The only way to patronize these businesses indoors is if you’re vaccinated,” said de Blasio.
The initiative will be fully enforced Sept. 13, ensuing a public service announcement declared de Blasio. Entry will be denied to anyone without a shot.
“If we’re going to stop the Delta variant, the time is now,” said de Blasio. “This is going to make [it] clear, you want to enjoy everything great in this summer of New York City? Go get vaccinated.”
The program is modeled after the vaccine passport programs launched in France and other European countries, said officials.
De Blasio announced that City Hall is finalizing the regulations, including if children younger than 12 years old will be allowed to dine indoors with their vaccinated parents. Moreover, the mayor said the city is looking into expanding the vaccine proof requirement to indoor activities, including indoor shopping.
The specifics of the novel policy will be determined by the week of Aug. 16, notified de Blasio.
Those who are unvaccinated will not have an option to receive a COVID-19 test announced de Blasio.
“Only government can make a difference here,” said State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens) during a virtual press briefing. “If we do not take a strong stand and say ‘you have the right to your body, of course; but you do not have to kill other people.”
“The voluntary phase is over,” said de Blasio on MSNBC last week. “It’s time for mandates, because it’s the only way to protect our people.”
On Monday, the mayor suggested a new “reality” in which those who do not get vaccinated are barred from certain settings in NYC.
“Go get vaccinated, so you can fully participate in the life of this city, because that’s where things are going,” said de Blasio.
However, other political leaders heed concern at the new requirement and warn of the possible economic and social repercussions.
“Mayor Bill de Blasio’s punitive and impractical vaccine card requirement for entering restaurants and theaters is bound to create confusion and hostility among New Yorkers and the businesses that serve them,” said Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar. Kassar urged leaders to recognize the “serious issues at stake here” including the chance that vaccine cards are “easily forgeable” and the “expense of hiring extra personnel to check cards.” He asserts that many restaurants cannot “financially endure” such a policy.
“New Yorkers can also expect the de Blasio plan to creep into all areas of private business,” said Kassar. “What’s starting at restaurants and theaters may soon logically expand into every type of shop and office. Inside space is inside space, no? Do we really want to live that way?”
“Mayor de Blasio should scrap this plan before it begins.”
The mayor of Boston compared NYC’s mandate to “slavery” and birtherism. “There’s a long history “ in the United States of people “needing to show their papers,” said Mayor Kim Janey.