Anyone who wants to dine indoors at restaurants in New York City will soon require proof of having had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccination
They will encounter the same requirement if they want to see a performance or go to the gym, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday, making the Big Apple the first major city in the US to impose such restrictions, the AP is reporting.
“The only way to patronise these establishments indoors will be if you’re vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “The goal here is to convince everyone that if we’re going to stop the Delta variant, the time to get vaccinated is right now.”
The mayor said some details still need to be worked out, including rules affecting children under 12, who are not yet eligible for any of the approved vaccines. The new requirement, will be phased in over several weeks in August and September.
De Blasio has focused on getting as many New Yorkers vaccinated as possible while resisting calls to mandate masks indoors, as several cities in California have done.
He said on Monday, “Right now what we want to nail is people getting vaccinated, and showing that life is much better when you’re vaccinated.
“You have more freedom when you’re vaccinated, and you have fewer choices, fewer opportunities if you’re not vaccinated.”
The mayor announced last week that city employees would be required to get vaccinated by mid-September or to face weekly testing, and he has offered a US$100 incentive for city residents who get inoculated.
Cities across the US and around the world are likely to impose similar requirements before long, but many New York restaurateurs are not so keen.
Seongmin Jun, the manager of Dear Han Cafe, wondered how he would check vaccination cards.
“Will customers get offended for checking if they got vaccinations?” he said. “They’re making it too hard for businesspeople.”
Sean Ogs, manager of the nearby Woodside Cafe, said, “We’ve already been in a struggle. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it. It’s going to be extra work. It’ll make things impossible.”
Woodside Cafe customer Debbie McCarthy, who is unvaccinated, said she was turned away over the weekend from several establishments that had already begun requiring proof of vaccinations from customers.
“I’m a little shocked they would do that,” said McCarthy, who said she recovered from Covid-19 a few months ago and believes her natural antibodies will protect her from future infections. “Why are they so afraid of people who haven’t been vaccinated? I think we should have a choice.”
Scientists recommend vaccination for people who have had the virus, saying it’s unclear how long immunity without vaccination for those who have recovered would last.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance restaurant group, said he supports the new policy.
“Mandating vaccine requirements for restaurant and bar employees and customers to work and dine indoors is a very difficult step, but ultimately may prove an essential move.
“We do not want to revert to restrictions and shut down orders that would absolutely devastate small businesses that have not yet recovered from the pandemic.”