NYC Mandates Proof of Vaccination for Indoor Dining, Gyms, Performances

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New York City will require proof of vaccination for people indoors at restaurants, gyms and concert venues starting Sept. 13, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday morning. 

The mandate will require that workers and customers at restaurants, gyms and indoor performances have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccines to attend each venue, de Blasio said during a press conference. The city will collect feedback on the program and educate local businesses starting Aug. 16, about a month from the policy’s enforcement date. 

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“The only way to patronize these establishments indoors will be if you are vaccinated — at least one dose,” de Blasio said. “If we’re going to stop the delta variant, the time is now. That means getting vaccinated right now.”

The highly contagious delta variant is raising concerns about an uptick in coronavirus cases and the potential of an outbreak among a population of close-quartered city dwellers — 40 percent of which remain unvaccinated, according to city data. Andy Slavitt, a former member of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response team, reiterated those concerns in the press conference. 

“The delta variant is a very different kind of COVID than what people may remember and have experienced from 2020,” said Slavitt. “If you’re not vaccinated, only five minutes of exposure can infect you … This is something that, in a city like New York, could cause widespread outbreaks.

As part of the new program, the city will create a health pass, called the “Key to NYC Pass,” to provide proof of vaccination, though de Blasio said the Excelsior Pass app or a vaccination card would work as well. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that New York will require state employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to mandatory testing for the virus starting on Sept. 1. The mayor issued a similar policy two days prior, requiring New York City municipal workers to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 13 or undergo weekly coronavirus testing.

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.