NYC mandates COVID vaccine proof to enter indoor restaurants, venues, gyms

Coronavirus

Waiter Lenworth Thompson serves lunch to David Zennario, left, and Alex Ecklin at Junior’s Restaurant on Sept. 30, 2020.

NEW YORK — New Yorkers will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor businesses such as restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

To gain entry to these establishments, New Yorkers and visitors to the city will have to either present their paper COVID-19 vaccination card, the state-run Excelsior Pass or the city’s vaccine passport app.

The program, called “Key to NYC Pass,” will be rolled out beginning on Aug. 16 and enforcement by the city will start on Sept. 13, de Blasio said.

“This is crucial because we know it will encourage a lot more vaccinations,” de Blasio said. “If we’re going to stop the delta variant, the time is now.”

New York City will be the first big city in the country to implement such a requirement. The policy is similar to mandates issued in France and Italy.

“We have to do something different if we want to make an impact,” de Blasio said.

The restriction is de Blasio’s latest attempt to curb a startling spike in COVID-19 cases linked to the delta variant after the mayor refused to implement an indoor mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated New Yorkers on Monday, despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to do so.

During a COVID briefing Monday morning, de Blasio said he “strongly recommends” fully vaccinated New Yorkers wear a mask indoors, especially around unvaccinated individuals, but stopped short of a mandate in public spaces.

The recommendation was based on science, data and strategy, according to de Blasio. A mandate was not issued because the city’s vaccination rate offers different opportunities, the mayor had said.

“Mask wearing is not a substitute for vaccinations,” de Blasio had added.

As of Tuesday morning, about 66% of adults in New York City were fully vaccinated, according to official data.

New York City Councilman Mark Levine, who joined de Blasio during his briefing, said millions of New Yorkers are still vulnerable to the delta variant.

“Despite our enormous progress in vaccination about 45% of residents of New York City are not yet fully vaccinated and that is enough for this virus to spread,” Levine said.

Last week, the mayor announced a vaccine or weekly testing mandate for all City of New York employees. On Monday, he went a step further and mandated all new city workers provide proof of COVID vaccination before their first day on the job. The city will not offer a weekly testing option for new employees, he said.

The city also began offering a $100 incentive to residents who get inoculated.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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