Scenes at today's Mets opening day game against the Washington...

Scenes at today's Mets opening day game against the Washington Nationals, Thursday April 4, 2019 at Citi Field. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The Mets and Yankees are beholden to the same private-sector vaccine mandate that bars Kyrie Irving from participating in home games, meaning that, unless the requirement is dropped, several players could be forbidden from playing at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, a spokesman from the mayor’s office confirmed on Tuesday.

The private-sector mandate, which went into effect on Dec. 27, is separate from the Key2NYC mandate that was repealed on March 7. Under the previous mandate, unvaccinated New York-based baseball players could still participate in games because they happened in an outdoor venue. The newer mandate, which is currently keeping Irving from playing with the Nets at Barclays Center, governs those who work in New York. Also called the workplace vaccine requirement, it prohibits the employment of unvaccinated individuals who do "in-person work or interact with the public." A workplace is defined as any location where someone works with another person, regardless of whether it is indoors or outdoors.

The mayor’s spokesperson, who spoke on condition that his name not be used, noted that Opening Day is still weeks away, and that restrictions are continually reviewed and could change based on metrics such as the rates of death, hospitalization, infection and the threat of variants.

Unvaccinated visiting players are allowed to compete because the mandate applies only to people who work for employers based in New York City.

Though it’s unclear how many of the Yankees and Mets are unvaccinated, the Mets last season never reached the 85% vaccination threshold needed to lift certain restrictions. The Yankees, who did reach that threshold, are not fully vaccinated, manager Aaron Boone said Monday. General manager Brian Cashman said Monday that some Yankees who were unvaccinated last year decided to get the shot this season.

Even before they were aware of the private-sector mandate, unvaccinated players would have not been allowed into Toronto because of Canada’s own laws governing vaccination. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Sunday that Canada’s mandates meant the Yankees "would miss a chunk of the middle of their order if unvaccinated players can’t play in Toronto."

Aaron Judge, who missed games because of COVID-19 last year, was asked directly about his vaccination status Tuesday.

"I’m so focused on us getting to the first game of spring training so, I think we’ll cross that bridge whenever the time comes," Judge said in Tampa, Florida. "But right now, so many things could change. I’m not really too worried about that right now."

Added a spokesperson for the Yankees: "On behalf of the Yankees, [president] Randy Levine is working with City Hall and all other appropriate officials on this matter. We will have no further comment at this time."

A spokesperson for the Mets declined comment.

It’s certainly possible that Mayor Eric Adams decides to drop the mandate before the home openers, which are April 7 for the Yankees and April 15 for the Mets. But Adams said in the past that though he wants athletes like Irving to be able to play, he will not make special exemptions out of respect for city workers who have to adhere to the mandate. Last month, over 1,400 city workers were fired after refusing the vaccine.

"It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless numbers of New York City employees, ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed,’ " Adams said last month. "Listen, I want Kyrie on the court. I would do anything to get that ring. So badly, I want it. But there’s so much at stake here . . . We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue."

On Sunday, Irving’s teammate, Kevin Durant, called the mandate "ridiculous" because Irving is permitted to sit courtside and watch games but not participate in them. Durant later released a statement apologizing to the mayor and calling this "a very confusing time."

"There’s a few people in our arena that’s unvaxxed, right?" Durant said before his apology. "They lifted all of that in our arena, right? . . . I don’t get it. It just feels like at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority. But everybody out here is looking for attention and that’s what I feel like the mayor wants right now, is some attention. But he’ll figure it out soon. He better."

The NBA also fined the Nets $50,000 for allowing Irving into the locker room at halftime.

With David Lennon and Matthew Chayes


Unvaccinated Mets and Yankees who were permitted to play home games last season are currently barred from home games this year because of a new mandate put in place on Dec. 27.

The previous mandate, repealed on March 7, barred unvaccinated individuals from indoor entertainment venues such as Barclays Center, but not outdoor venues like baseball stadiums.

The new mandate, however, governs city workers, and says individuals must be vaccinated in order to perform “in-person work or interact with the public.”

A workplace is defined as any location where someone works with another person, regardless of whether it is indoors or outdoors. This rule does not apply to visiting players.

More MLB news

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access