New York City is set to become the first city in the United States to require customers who visit indoor gyms, restaurants, and performances to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Democrat, announced these measures at a news briefing, calling it the “Key to NYC Pass.” The mandate will be enforced beginning September 13 after a public service announcement campaign. De Blasio warned that people who are not vaccinated would not be allowed entry at these venues.
“It’s time for people to see vaccination as necessary to living a good and full and healthy life… It will require vaccination for workers and customers in indoor dining, in indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment facilities… The only way to patronize these businesses indoors is if you’re vaccinated… If you want to participate in society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated,” the mayor said at the briefing.
To get entry into venues, individuals have to either show their Excelsior pass or the vaccine card provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Excelsior pass was rolled out by the New York government this year. It is a smartphone app that provides a “free, fast, and secure way” to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.
De Blasio also hinted that additional measures against unvaccinated people might be introduced soon. “We’ve got to shake people at this point and say, ‘Come on now.’ We tried voluntary. We could not have been more kind and compassionate. Free testing, everywhere you turn, incentives, friendly, warm embrace. The voluntary phase is over,” he said during an interview with MSNBC last week.
The New York City mayor’s vaccination mandate comes on the back of New York Governor Democrat Andrew Cuomo asking private businesses to adopt a “vaccine-only admission” policy,” banning unvaccinated people from accessing services. Cuomo justified the move to be in their “best business interest.”
“If I go to a restaurant and I’m sitting at a table, and the table right next to me, I want to know that they’re vaccinated. I believe it’s in your business interest to run a vaccine-only establishment,” Cuomo said at a press conference. As an example, he cited Radio City Music Hall that opened months ago to only vaccinated individuals and “sold out all the shows.”
According to the latest data from the New York City government, only 66 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
While New York City is trying to force people to get vaccinated, several states have taken measures to protect citizens from such mandates. In May, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill prohibiting the use of vaccine passports in Florida. In June, Texas Governor Republican Greg Abbott also signed a similar bill.
“Texas is open 100%. Texans should have the freedom to go where they want without any limits, restrictions, or requirements,” Abbott said in a tweet.
Larry Lynch, senior vice president of science and Industry at the National Restaurant Association, pointed out that de Blasio’s mandate would require “significant changes” in how restaurants in New York operate.
“Checking vaccination status isn’t like ID-ing a customer before serving them a drink—staff receive training on how to do that. Now, without training, our staff members are expected to check the vaccine status of every customer wanting to eat inside the establishment,” Lynch said in a statement.
Despite de Blasio’s ‘one size fits all’ approach, the vaccinations, although effective against COVID-19 in most cases, are not proving to be 100% effective against the Delta variant. A China CDC study based on studies from a large recent outbreak that was well traced in Guangzhou stated that “The B.1.617.2 has been labeled as Variant of Concern (VOC), Delta,” with the study suggesting that the transmission rate is 1000s of times higher due to the increased viral load of the variant.