New York City will begin requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesday for anyone dining indoors at restaurants, works out at a gym or attends an indoor performance — an unprecedent move by the country’s largest city to help contain a virus that has wrought havoc on public life and to persuade more New Yorkers to get vaccinated.
While the new requirement goes into effect Tuesday, enforcement won’t begin until Sept. 13.
“We’re going to get out there and educate people, and we’re going to remind people that we really want people to take this seriously,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Monday.
“Just buy into this because it’s going to work for all of us, is going to make us all safer,” he said.
As of Monday, the city reported that 5.2 million of the city’s 8.8 million residents have had at least one shot of a vaccine, with 4.7 million fully vaccinated.
New York City averaged 200 new cases of coronavirus per day over the past seven days, a number that has been steadily increasing since falling to just a few hundred per day in late June.
Other cities, including San Francisco, followed New York’s move in taking more aggressive measures against the pandemic.
The requirement is meant to goad more people to get vaccinated in order to take part in daily public life. It remains to be seen if that strategy will work.
Tourists and other visitors would also have to comply with the requirement by showing their vaccination card or other documentation.
De Blasio warned against falsifying vaccination cards — which he called a “sacred” document. Doing so could be met with severe penalties. Restaurants and other establishments that don’t comply could be fined up to $1,000 for a first offense, and could escalate.
In addition to patrons, employees at restaurants, gyms and indoor performance venues will also have to be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, healthcare workers in New York are the latest workforce to see a vaccine mandate as part of a push from officials who hope to curb the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
The mandate comes on the same day state health officials authorized a third dose of the vaccine for New Yorkers with compromised immune systems. The authorization follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued late last week.
New Yorkers eligible for the third shot must wait 28 days after receiving their second dose (a third dose if only authorized for Moderna and Pfizer) and is effective immediately, the governor said.
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced all healthcare workers in New York must get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday, Sept. 27.