Brooklyn Boro

Reactions mixed to New York vaccine mandates

August 16, 2021 Bobby Caina Calvan and Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press, and Raanan Geberer, Brooklyn Eagle
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Reactions in the New York metropolitan area were mixed on Monday as New York State ordered hospital and nursing home workers to get COVID-19 inoculations and New York City was poised to start requiring proof of vaccinations for anyone in restaurant dining rooms, gyms, museums and many other leisure venues.

The new policies aim to goad people into getting vaccinated as New York, like the rest of the U.S., confronts a coronavirus wave powered by the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus.

As the variant posed a growing threat and vaccination rates leveled off this summer, some cities, states and federal agencies have rapidly shifted from encouraging vaccination to either-or requirements — inoculation or testing — to a flat-out insistence on vaccination for some settings or workforces.

“Just buy into this because it’s going to work for all of us, is going to make us all safer,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, a restaurant and bar owners’ group, through executive director Andrew Rigie, said the vaccine checks add another challenge for establishments struggling to recover from pandemic shutdowns and a labor shortage. The group hopes the requirement will help keep the outbreak from worsening and spurring even more onerous restrictions. 

Some individual restaurateurs, though, feel it’s an unfair burden. 

Massimo Felici, who owns three Staten Island restaurants, told Yahoo News, 

“This could destroy my business. There are too many people who are unvaccinated. Right now it’s summer, so it’s not too bad to eat outside. But soon it will be really cold. A lot of people are going to get fed up and leave.”

Ellen Sledge, owner of Penny Lick Ice Cream in Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester, told the LoHud website, “Putting the onus on small business owners who have been through more than enough in the last 15 months in absence of strong cohesive enforced public policy is unacceptable.”

The general public, judging by posts on Twitter, was also divided. “Local Historian” tweeted, “To go to school, you did [get injections] and your kids did. To get into teachers’ college, I had to show my immunization card and take a TB test. Travelers already need proof of specific vaccines to enter certain countries.”

However, “Peacesco” said, “New York is the first city in the nation to require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for workers and customers at indoor restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues. Modern-day segregation!”

The new regulation applies to patrons, employees, New Yorkers, commuters and visitors alike in settings ranging from arenas to coffee shops to yoga studios. Even strip clubs are included.

There are exceptions for children under 12 — who are not yet eligible for vaccination — and athletes, contractors and some performers who don’t live in the city. The policy also excludes church potlucks, community centers, office buildings, house parties (even if they’re catered) and people ducking in somewhere to pick up food or use the bathroom, among other exemptions.

It goes into effect Tuesday, but enforcement won’t begin until Sept. 13, to give the public more time to get vaccinated. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the city’s most visited venues, said it was working on how to implement the new rule but supports it.

In other news, New York State’s new policy for hospitals and long-term care facilities follows vaccination requirements for health care workers in Californiamembers of the U.S. military, and patient care staffers in the federal Health and Human Services Department and Department of Veterans Affairs. Some private businesses, from Google to United Airlines, also have ordered employees to get the shot.

“Our healthcare heroes led the battle against the virus, and now we need them to lead the battle between the variant and the vaccine,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who is leaving office later this month after resigning over sexual harassment allegations, which he denies.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New York has risen over the past two weeks from over 2,400 new cases per day to nearly 4,200, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New York City averaged 2,000 new cases of coronavirus per day over the past seven days, up from around 200 per day in late June.

New York state took a more limited step late last month, requiring vaccination for staffers who work directly with patients at state-owned hospitals and veterans homes. Asked whether the new policy applies only to front-line workers, and whether it would also extend to such settings as medical offices and home health care, state Health Department spokesperson Jill Montag said the agency was working to finalize the details.

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  1. Dan Bianchi

    I have a theater in the Village with a show opening in October. Now aside from hiring new employees to take temps, inspect vax cards, etc….am I suppose to ENFORCE the city rules if an unruly denier shows up with purchased tickets? What if they remove their mask inside during a show and other patrons complain out loud? Do I run down the aisle and physically remove them causing an uproar? I already have ticket buyers asking if they can avoid SOME of the rules for their unvaxxed teens. And what about the fake vax card holders (a burgeoning business!) who are to be prosecuted by law if caught? Does my female ticket taker physically hold them prisoner until the cops arrive? Or, are we to hire BOUNCERS now to guard our entrances?

    ALSO, the new law says that if the venue is caught allowing violators in, even by mistake…WE are now to be fined $1500??? What idiot besides the Mayor made these rules? He says he hopes to MOTIVATE the un-vaccinated. Does he really think that preventing them from seeing a play will change their minds? Meanwhile, the whole Theatre community is rejoicing about opening up in Fall while deniers are starting riots around the city and threatening those who reject them or prevent them from exercising their “freedom.” This ain’t FLA or TX, folks…I’m talking NYC.

    I can’t wait until opening night. That is, of course, unless there are even more ridiculous rules before then and I can’t afford the additional personnel.

  2. cathylovesyou

    Once the article mentioned BLM and Kings County Hospital, I was turned off and stopped reading. Good reporting by the Eagle, but tough to handle with BLM which should add a D before M. Blacks because their ignorance in some cases, a general fear of the needle, need encouragement not only by White People but follow Black leaders and groups. Don’t add fear and BS political crap to a decease just like Small Pox when everybody was mandated to get and they did, saving plenty of White and Black lives. I am not for mandates, but I am for helping those get the support in hard decisions like getting the Vax. Damn if you have a friend or relative drive them to a center stay with them and help them through these hard times in our history.
    Good luck.