Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday rolled out details on the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for many indoor settings in the five boroughs that will take effect Tuesday and will be enforced in mid-September.
The proof of vaccine to enter requirement, dubbed the Key to NYC, will apply to indoor restaurants, bars, museums and movie theaters, but not to places such as office buildings, community and senior centers as well as outdoor dining set ups.
On Sept. 13, the city will begin issuing fines — $1,000 for first offense and $2,000 for the second — to indoor businesses that fail to ensure their venues are off limits for those who remain unvaccinated.
“The Key to NYC is an approach that makes clear the power of vaccination. It is the ultimate encouragement to get people vaccinated,” de Blasio said Monday morning during his daily virtual press briefing, held remotely from City Hall.
As the mayor takes measures to combat the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases driven by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in the five boroughs, he’s in recent weeks framed the policy as a way to encourage New Yorkers to get their jabs by ensuring that being inoculated against COVID-19 is needed to participate in society in New York City.
“We want people to enjoy the fullness of the city, but you’ve got to be vaccinated to do it,” de Blasio said.
“I’m absolutely certain this is going to motivate a lot of people to get vaccinated,” he added. “It’s going to be a reason for people to get vaccinated, particularly young people.”
To spread the word and educate local businesses about the new program, first announced Aug. 3, City Hall will on Tuesday launch a $10 million public awareness campaign, de Blasio said. The PSA effort ahead of the start of city enforcement will include radio, TV, digital, social media and subway live boards, according to the mayor’s office.
In addition, de Blasio announced that he’s signing an executive order Monday codifying the policy.
David Burke, one of Brooklyn’s most prominent restaurateurs, said Tuesday morning he supports it.
“It’ll keep the industry from being shut down again. Plus, it will give the public a sense of security when dining out, which will encourage more people to do so,” said Burke at the mayor’s press conference. “So I think it’ll be good for business.”
Others have voiced concerns about the policy.
Art Depole, who co-owns a Mooyah Burgers, Fries, and Shakes franchise in Midtown, predicted the new initiative would spur a “free-for-all” in which “customers and restaurants aren’t really going to know what’s happening with this.”
But some businesses have already started requiring proof of a jab to enter, and it hasn’t caused problems.
At Tito Murphy’s in Hell’s Kitchen, which began enforcing the vaccine mandate Monday, the rule has so far been kept without hiccups.
“It’s working well,” said a hostess at the restaurant. “A lot of people appreciate it, and those who aren’t as concerned are sitting inside. Those who are sitting inside are glad too.”
Customers are mostly proving that they have received a shot by displaying a picture of their vaccine card on their smartphone and New York City and state applications, she said.
“I’m not happy or unhappy,” said the hostess of her views on the new rule. “It’s what’s needed to keep the restaurant afloat.”
The following types of establishments will be required to ask for proof of vaccination for entry.
- Movie theaters
- Live music and concert venues
- Museums and galleries
- Aquariums and zoos
- Professional sports stadiums and arenas
- Convention centers
- Exhibition halls
- Performing arts theaters
- Bowling alleys
- Recreational game centers, arcades, and pool & billiard halls
- Casinos and adult entertainment
- Restaurants and bars
- Catering halls and event spaces
- Hotel banquet rooms
- Cabarets and nightclubs
- Grocery stores with indoor dining
- Bakeries and coffee shops
- Fast food and quick service eateries with indoor dining
- Gyms and fitness centers, and fitness class venues
- Dance studios and sports classes
The following indoor settings are not required to bar unvaccinated people
- Dining where food consumed elsewhere, like fast food eateries
- Businesses that opt to get rid of indoor seating
- Residential buildings
- Office buildings
- Childcare programs
- Pre k-12 public and non-public schools and programs
- Senior centers
- Churches hosting Sunday potlucks or similar events
- Community centers
- Charitable food services
- Catering at a home
How can you prove that you’re vaccinated?
- A picture of your Center for Disease Control vaccination card
- NYC COVID Safe App
- New York State Excelsior App
- The actual CDC vaccine card
- A photo or hard copy of an official vaccination record of a COVID-19 vaccine administered outside the United States, including AstraZeneca/SK Bioscience, Serum Institute of India/COVISHIELD, Vaxzevria, Sinopharm, or Sinovac.
Can kids under 12, who are not yet eligible for a shot, go to movies, indoor restaurants and museums with vaccinated parents?
Yes. De Blasio, the day after he announced the vaccination requirement, clarified that the ban on unvaccinated people entering eateries and entertainment venues will not apply to children under 12.
“If you’re going out with your whole family and your kids are not yet vaccination age, of course they can come along,” the mayor said on Aug. 4.
Unvaccinated kids will need to wear a mask while not eating, said de Blasio.
“We welcome kids, of course, to restaurants and movie theaters, etc. Wear a mask, that’s a smart thing to do,” he said on CBS that morning. “And hopefully sooner, five 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.”
City Hall confirmed Monday that children under 12 can accompany an adult who has received a COVID-19 shot.
Who else is not subject to the new mandate?
- Anyone entering for a minimum amount of time required 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 of New York City
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Rosner