On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City will be the first in the country to require proof of vaccination for employees and patrons inside restaurants and gyms, with the goal of pushing citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
At a press conference, de Blasio said that vaccination is “literally necessary” to live a “full and healthy” life, and that he regrets that unvaccinated people do not have the same right as those who are vaccinated.
“When someone is vaccinated, they can do all the wonderful things in New York City,” de Blasio said. “If you’re not vaccinated, unfortunately you can’t participate in a lot of things. […] This is crucial, because we know it will encourage a lot more vaccinations.”
The mayor said he understood that “a lot of people will disagree” with the measure, but believes that mandatory use of masks can “ensure high levels of vaccination.”
As part of the new program, New York City will create a health pass called the “Key to NYC Pass,” a sort of ID card or passport that would serve to provide proof of vaccination.
This is not the first time de Blasio has tried to encourage vaccination. He has previously offered $100 to those who choose to get vaccinated in his city. In addition, in late July, the mayor required unvaccinated city hospital workers and clinical staff at the city’s health department to undergo a weekly Covid-19 test, and made vaccination a requirement for hiring new public employees.
The move comes at a time when more than 66 % of adults have been vaccinated, according to official data, and the death rate from COVID-19 has dropped dramatically in New York City.
Still, de Blasio conditioned New Yorkers’ freedom: “If you want to participate in our society, you must get vaccinated,” he said during his press conference.
While New Yorkers will be able to continue their outdoor activities without wearing a face mask, they will have to use the city’s new digital app, the state’s Excelsior app, or a paper card to show proof of vaccination if they want to work out at a gym or dine inside a restaurant.