New York City will require proof of being vaccinated against the coronavirus in order to participate in many indoor activities, including at restaurants, gyms and theaters, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
The mandate, covering dining, exercise, entertainment and employment, is to be phased in around Aug. 16, with inspections and enforcement beginning around Sept. 13, de Blasio said.
He called the program, to be promulgated via mayoral and health commissioner orders, the Key to NYC Pass.
"It will require vaccination for workers and customers in indoor dining, in indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment facilities. This is going to be a requirement," de Blasio said. "The only way to patronize these establishments indoors will be if you’re vaccinated — at least one dose. The same of folks in terms of work."
De Blasio said proof could be shown via a copy of a paper vaccination card, or a government-issued smartphone app like the Excelsior Pass.
"We know that this is what's going to turn the tide. And we also know that people are going to get a really clear message: If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated. You’ve got to get vaccinated. It's time," he said.
Asked how the mandate would apply to children 12 and younger — who cannot be vaccinated because the vaccines aren’t approved for the age group — de Blasio’s health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said the finalized policy would have "reasonable accommodations made."
De Blasio, who noted the mandate will be the first of its type in the nation, said vaccination was especially needed to combat the delta variant. A similar policy has been enacted in France and Italy.
De Blasio said the vaccine mandate would not yet extend to essential establishments such as grocery stores, but a mandate at those venues was under consideration. He also said the city would consider subsidies to businesses that sustain added costs to comply with the mandate.
In a written statement, Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said the plan was preferable to lockdowns and other restrictions from last year.
"Mandating vaccine requirements for restaurant and bar employees and customers to work and dine indoors is a very difficult step, but ultimately may prove an essential move, to protecting public health and ensuring that New York City does not revert to restrictions and shut-down orders that would again absolutely devastate small businesses that have not yet recovered from the pandemic," the statement said.
The Five-Borough Chamber Alliance, which represents borough-based business groups, said the mandate would help in "keeping the city on the path to full economic recovery."
A day earlier, de Blasio declined to impose a mask mandate for indoor public locations as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for areas with high levels of transmission of coronavirus.
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