In the first order of its kind in the United States, New York City will soon require proof of vaccination for a variety of indoor activities, including restaurants, bars, gyms, and entertainment venues. The mandate, referred to as “Key to NYC Pass,” requires people over the age of 12 to show proof of at least the first dose of the vaccine through a physical card, an app, or the Excelsior Pass to enter indoor venues. Full enforcement begins on September 13th.
These restrictions are among the most aggressive the United States has seen, but are similar to those in France, Italy, and other foreign countries. Requiring proof of vaccination not only aims to keep people safer but also to incentivize unvaccinated citizens to get their shot as cases surge and vaccination rates stagnate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City is “full of wonders,” and, “if you’re vaccinated all that’s going to open up to you. But if you’re unvaccinated you will not be able to participate in many things.” Following de Blasio’s announcement, President Biden said that he believed other cities should follow suit and require proof of vaccination for indoor venues.
While these requirements may seem stringent, vaccine mandates are taking off in both private businesses and governmental organizations across the country and many say vaccine mandates are the key to recovery. Microsoft will require its 100,000 employees, and guests and vendors, to show proof of vaccination to enter offices. Tyson Foods said their 120,000 employees must be vaccinated by November 1st as a condition of employment. Walmart, Google, Facebook, Walt Disney, and Uber are among the other companies requiring at least some employees to be vaccinated. States like New York, California, and North Carolina are requiring state employees to be vaccinated. And seven million federal workers must show proof of vaccination or follow a weekly testing, masking, and social distancing regimen. Further, over 500 colleges and universities are making the vaccine an enrollment requirement.
New York City previously required city workers to be vaccinated or routinely tested and offered a $100 cash reward for anyone who got their vaccine. With this new order, de Blasio hopes that even more people will want to get vaccinated as only the vaccinated will be able to participate in the city’s most popular social activities.
However, the logistics of enforcement are complicated and not all residents are pleased. City officials said health department inspectors will enforce new rules, and, if restaurant workers or patrons are found without at least one dose, the restaurant could face fines. With 25,000 restaurants and bars, managing them all will be a challenge. Further, among the millions of New Yorkers without a vaccine, there are a handful of people who find the new requirements to be unfair.
“Not everyone is going to agree with this — I understand that,” said de Blasio, “But for so many people, this is going to be a lifesaving act.” Whether or not New York’s restrictions create a domino effect and inspire other cities and states to crack down on vaccination remains to be seen.
Since the time of this article’s publication, San Francisco has decided to require proof of vaccination for entry to indoor businesses and events.