NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce a new policy on Tuesday that requires residents to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination when dining in restaurants, working out at a gym, attending a play or go out dancing, a city official said.
The new program for “unlocking New York City” will begin this month, and the app is expected to begin in mid-September, according to City Hall.
De Blasio’s announcement marks one of the most aggressive measures taken by an elected official to combat an increase in Covid-19 cases caused by the Delta variant. At the end of July, the mayor demanded that unvaccinated city hospital workers and clinical staff from the city’s health service undergo a weekly Covid-19 test – a decision first reported by POLITICO – and that the The city’s employment for new recruits is contingent on vaccination.
One official described the move as a first step towards a broader requirement for vaccines in the country’s largest city.
“The mayor is now 100% [on board] and aggressively pushing for vaccine certification, ”said a city hall official familiar with the discussions, who requested anonymity to speak before the official announcement. “[De Blasio] wants it for everything inside – public and private – but obviously has to expand the implementation and expects a lot of hindsight.
The official added that New York City wants to “lead the nation in this regard.”
The policy comes as de Blasio has come under fire for failing to reinstate mask-wearing warrants amid a recent spike in cases, but he insisted the city must focus on vaccination. Monday, the representative Adriano Espaillat and City Council member Mark Levine, who chairs the health committee, called for a proposal similar to the one that will be rolled out on Tuesday.
Levine, a fellow Democrat, hailed the policy as “a critical movement” and said it “will provide a powerful incentive for New Yorkers to get vaccinated.”
About 60% of all New Yorkers are partially vaccinated, although vaccination rates lag behind in Staten Island and Brooklyn, as well as among black New Yorkers. According to city data, 35% of black New Yorkers are partially vaccinated, compared to 76% of Asians, Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
Blasio’s administration said it has had conversations with industry executives to strengthen policy and proactively tone down accusations of government overrun.
Equinox Group, owner of its eponymous high-end gym chain, SoulCycle spin studio and Blink gyms, will adopt the policy in September, according to city hall. Equinox informed its members of the policy change on Monday, saying that “an overwhelming majority of members have expressed support for the requirement of vaccines to access our clubs,” according to an email sent by the gymnasium president and the executive chairman of the Equinox group.
Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer, a restaurateur whose businesses include Gramercy Tavern and Shake Shack, was another of the first to adopt the policy.
The move also garnered support from the New York City Hospitality Alliance, with some caveats.
“The obligation to vaccinate employees and customers of restaurants and bars to work and dine indoors is a very difficult step for the industry, but can ultimately prove to be an essential measure, to protect public health and ensure that New York City does not revert to restrictions and shut down orders, ”said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the business group. “All requirements must include extensive awareness, education and support, and we are prepared to work with the city to ensure the safety of workers and customers, while keeping restaurants, bars and clubs open with or without a mandatory vaccine.” . “