On August 16, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the “Key to NYC” details. The requirement for individuals to be vaccinated at certain indoor venues went into effect on August 17, and enforcement will begin on September 13. De Blasio shared an escalating fee schedule for businesses that violate the order. He also called the passport requirement the “ultimate encouragement to get people vaccinated.”
Most sane people would call it coercion. The policy, posted on the city’s website, provides for no exceptions for the average New York City resident. While it is unpopular to mention, some people cannot receive the vaccine because of their medical history. Under the current policy, there is no accommodation for these individuals. There is also no acknowledgment of recovered immunity. According to the CDC, nearly one million New York City residents have recovered from COVID-19.
Children who are not eligible to be vaccinated can accompany vaccinated adults into the restricted venues if they wear a mask. It sounds like children will become part of the program when the FDA approves the vaccine for those under 12:
We welcome kids, of course, to restaurants and movie theaters, etc. Wear a mask, that’s a smart thing to do,” he [de Blasio] said on CBS that morning. “And hopefully sooner, 5- to 11-year-olds will be eligible for vaccination on top of that, but we don’t want to separate families, we want families to enjoy stuff together.
The new order requires patrons and employees to provide proof of vaccination in dozens of venues:
- Indoor dining
- Includes restaurants, catering halls, event spaces, hotel banquet rooms, bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, grocery stores with indoor dining, coffee shops, and fast food or quick service with indoor dining
- Indoor fitness
- Includes gyms, fitness centers, fitness classes, pools, indoor studios, and dance studios
- Indoor entertainment
- Includes movie theaters, music and concert venues, museums and galleries, aquariums and zoos, professional sports arenas, indoor stadiums, convention centers, exhibition halls, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, pool and billiard halls, recreational game centers, adult entertainment, and indoor play areas
At this point, de Blasio’s mandate does not extend to stores where people shop for necessities. Of course, it is all subject to change at the mayor’s discretion. This implementation coincides with employers at many of these businesses reporting that they’re having trouble hiring enough staff. Across the nation, there are more jobs open than people willing to take them. Enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits, the eviction moratorium, and new welfare benefits without a work requirement contribute to the phenomenon.
To encourage vaccination, de Blasio implemented a $100 payment to anyone receiving one. This move increased vaccination rates slightly, but only 38% of black residents have had the single dose required for entrance to indoor venues. Hispanic and white residents hover around 50%. Citywide, 75% of adults have had at least one dose, but it varies significantly by borough.
While no exceptions exist in the policy for residents with valid medical reasons or those who have recovered from the virus, like every exemplary authoritarian, de Blasio makes specific exceptions for the beautiful people. The good news is the plebs can still use the bathroom in an emergency and grab a to-go bag:
- Anyone entering for a short period of time like to use the bathroom and pick up or place an order
- Performing artists who do not live in New York City
- Members of professional sports teams who do not live in the five boroughs and compete in an event in an arena or stadium
- Staffers who accompany singers and other artists or athletes as part of their regular job and who live outside New York City
How will these exceptions be enforced? No information is available. Yet, businesses are subject to fines for non-compliance. Even worse, de Blasio feels emboldened to coerce people whose medical history indicates they may be at high risk for vaccine side effects to receive one in order to engage in everyday activities or work. His policy will also have a predictable disparate impact on minorities according to publicly available data.
Political leaders from Staten Island are standing up against Mayor de Blasio’s mandate and have filed for an injunction to stop it. A group of businesses in Staten Island and Brooklyn also filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court late on August 17:
A group of Staten Island businesses filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court late Tuesday against New York City’s executive order signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio that requires vaccination for indoor entertainment, recreation, dining and fitness.
The suit, brought in part by a set of proprietors mostly located in Staten Island and Brooklyn dubbed the Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue (IROAR), calls the latest mandate “arbitrary, irrational, unscientific, and unlawful.”
The litigation argues the mandate “would severely impact Plaintiff-Petitioner’s business, life savings, and livelihood” and seeks a permanent injunction against the order.
Undoubtedly, these are the first of many more lawsuits to come.
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