NEW YORK (AP) — New York City will soon require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone who wants to dine indoors at a restaurant, see a performance or go to the gym, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday, making it the first big city in the U.S. to impose such restrictions.
The new requirement, which will be phased in over several weeks in August and September, is the most aggressive step the city has taken yet to curb a surge in cases caused by the delta variant. People will have to show proof that they have had at least one vaccine dose.
“The only way to patronize these establishments indoors will be if you’re vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “The goal here is to convince everyone that this is the time. If we’re going to stop the delta variant, the time is now.”
The Democrat 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 policy will go into effect on Aug. 16 but inspections and enforcement won't begin until Sept. 13 — the week the city's public schools reopen for fall.
During a Tuesday news conference, President Joe Biden said he supported New York City’s move and said other cities need to give “the authority to those restaurants or businesses to say: ‘In order to come in, you have to give proof that you’re either vaccinated or you can’t come in.’”
De Blasio has focused on getting as many New Yorkers vaccinated as possible while resisting calls to mandate masks indoors, as several cities and counties in California have done.
He said vaccination cards will be accepted as proof of inoculation, along with state and city apps.
De Blasio said Monday he was making “a strong recommendation” that everyone wear a mask in public indoor settings but stressed that the city’s “overwhelming strategic thrust” remained getting more people vaccinated.
Asked Tuesday about a mask mandate, de Blasio said all options were on the table but reiterated the city's policy is “vaccine-centric.”
“Right now what we want to nail is people getting vaccinated, and, very bluntly, showing that life is much better when you’re vaccinated," he added. “You have more freedom when you’re vaccinated, and you have a lot less, 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 face weekly testing, and he has offered a $100 incentive for city residents who get inoculated.
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