New York City will require proof of vaccination for indoor activities, becoming the first U.S. city to implement such a vaccine requirement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that both workers and customers will now be required to show proof of vaccination to access NYC restaurants, gyms, theaters, and other indoor entertainment venues.
"It's time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary for living a good, full, and healthy life," de Blasio said. "If you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things."
Labeled the "Key to NYC Pass," the program will begin Aug. 16 and enforcement will begin Sept. 13. There are three ways to show proof of vaccination: a paper card, New York state’s "Excelsior Pass" mobile app, and NYC’s new "Covid Safe" app.
The vaccination requirement is in place of a mask mandate. De Blasio said Tuesday during a press conference that his focus is on vaccination, even though "not everyone's going to agree with this."
"Our strategy is vaccine-centric. Anything and everything we do is to support vaccination. Anything less than vaccination isn't going to get us where we need to go," de Blasio said. "What we want to nail is people getting vaccinated, and very bluntly, showing life is much better when you're vaccinated."
About 66% of NYC adults are fully vaccinated, but de Blasio wants that number higher. This past Monday, he mandated that all new city employees must be vaccinated to be hired. He also recently offered $100 to NYC residents and employees to make a vaccination appointment.
De Blasio said, "I'm taking this action in part to inspire others to follow suit." Other U.S. cities may be more inclined to institute similar policies now that NYC has established a precedent.
One big question that remains unanswered is how this new policy will affect tourism and those who travel from out of state to do business in NYC. Will the policy apply universally? Or will businesses be able to excuse out-of-town tourists from the rule?
A similar proof of vaccination policy is already in place in Abu Dhabi and was recently passed in France. On Monday, France’s parliament passed a law that requires proof of vaccination (what they’re calling a “health pass”) or a negative PCR test to enter restaurants, bars, trade shows, long-distance trains, and hospitals. Thousands have protested in France, as well as in Italy where a similar vaccine passport is being discussed.
One Italian protestor said, “We are creating a great inequality between citizens. We will have first-class citizens, who can access public services, the theatre, social life, and second-class citizens, who cannot.”
A French teacher protesting in Paris said, “We're creating a segregated society, and I think it is unbelievable to be doing this in the country of human rights. So I took to the streets; I have never protested before in my life. I think our freedom is in danger."