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COVID Vaccine: Gov. Cuomo Does Dramatic About-Face, Now Says Restaurant Workers Are Eligible To Get Inoculated

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expanded the pool of people eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine to include restaurant workers, taxi drivers and the developmentally disabled.

But with supplies already stretched, it is a very controversial decision, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.

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Madeline Ianciani, the owner of the Ring Ding Bar on Duane Street, is firmly in the camp of those who think restaurant workers should be included in the pool of people eligible to get the vaccine.

"I think they and anybody else that is going to deal with the public, like waiters, should be able to get the vaccine quickly before indoor dining resumes," Iancini said.

Richard Vanderblas is an event caterer.

"I do think that we need a vaccine for the event industry and restaurant workers so that we can reopen," Vanderblas said.


That is one side of what is quickly becoming New York state's vaccine wars over who exactly is eligible to claim a hard-to-find place to get inoculated.

Cuomo's decision to expand the pool to include restaurant workers, taxi drivers and the developmentally disabled drew a swift and angry rebuke from Jack Halpern, an advocate for the elderly.

"I am incensed. It's about time to take care of the elderly in this state," Halpern said. "I mean, how many people have to die as a result of this mess."


The governor's decision was a dramatic about-face. On Monday, he said the idea of adding restaurant workers was a cheap, insincere suggestion. He changed his mind after the federal government said it would increase the state's vaccine allotment by 20%.

It also came after Mayor Bill de Blasio implored him to change his mind.

"The restaurant workers are now going to be in enclosed places with people eating and drinking and every doctor on this line will say that is an area of concern. We have to protect the people who work in our restaurants," de Blasio said.

Kramer asked Cuomo about his change of heart and if pressure from the mayor played a part.

"Marcia, let me be clear. I said yesterday I think everybody should get the vaccine. It's a practical problem of supply and demand. You have many communities that are deserving of the vaccine," Cuomo said.

The governor said it is up to the mayor to decide whether to expand the eligibility at city vaccine hubs. A spokesman for de Blasio said the city is looking at these new allowances.

Meanwhile, the mayor reopened outdoor dining, which had been closed because of the snowstorm.


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