Watch CBS News

NYC To Require Proof Of Vaccination For Indoor Dining, Fitness And Entertainment

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- People will soon have to show proof of vaccination for indoor dining, fitness and entertainment in New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the "Key to NYC Pass" on Tuesday.

"When you hear those words, I want you to imagine the notion that because someone is vaccinated, they can do all the amazing things that are available in New York City," he said. "If you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things."

The mandate is similar to ones issued last month in France and Italy, but it's a first-of-its kind in the U.S.

The mayor said it will apply to both workers and customers in those indoor spaces. It will be phased in beginning Aug. 16, with full enforcement by Sept. 13.

"It's time for people to see vaccination as literately necessary to living a good and full and healthy life," de Blasio said.

"Is there concern about how this might affect the workforce, like restaurants that are already short-staffed?" CBS2's Lisa Rozner asked Mayor de Blasio.

"On the staffing, look, this is to protect everyone in the restaurant community, entertainment community, the employees, and the customers alike. What I really believe, Lisa, is that this will inspire people to get vaccinated," de Blasio said.

New York City Council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine had been pushing for the order.

"We've learned over the past year and a half that our choice is to act now or face more difficult options," he said during the mayor's press conference. "I really am optimistic that this will be just the nudge that folks who are on the fence will need to finally do the right thing to protect themselves, their families, their communities and get the vaccine."

"It's very simple -- I carry my wallet with me and I pull out my card," Rep. Adriano Espaillat added.

Several businesses have already started requiring vaccinations for employees and customers, including Equinox and Soul Cycle.

The historic soul food restaurant Sylvia's in Harlem supports the pass, especially to protect child customers who aren't eligible to get vaccinated, Rozner reported.

"The real case is that COVID is killing us and we are being hit, especially in Harlem and other Black and brown communities, especially hard, because lots of folks are not getting the vaccination," said Tren'ness Woods-Black, co-owner of Sylvia's.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance said the policy "is a very difficult step, but ultimately may prove an essential move."

"Mandating vaccine requirements for restaurant and bar employees and customers to work and dine indoors is a very difficult step, but ultimately may prove an essential move to protecting public health and ensuring that New York City does not revert to restrictions and shut down orders that would again absolutely devastate small businesses that have not yet recovered from the pandemic," Executive Director Andrew Rigie wrote.

"We know that a mandated vaccine requirement will pose economic and operational challenges to restaurants, particularly in communities with lower vaccination rates and hesitancy, however it will also alleviate the burden that restaurants and bars face when implementing this policy voluntarily.

"While having to require this requirement is far from ideal, now we need government to support restaurants, bars and workers with clear and fair guidelines, and an extensive outreach and education program, while also implementing more policies to support the industry's recovery," Rigie added.

New York City is also requiring all municipal workers to be vaccinated by the start of school on Sept. 13 or face weekly testing, and all new employees must provide proof of vaccination.

The city has stopped short of enacting a mask mandate, but the mayor and health commissioner say they "strongly recommend" everyone wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.


Health experts say the Delta variant is driving soaring case numbers. The latest indicators show new cases accelerating citywide, at 1,200 a day and doubling in the past 10 days.

"My husband's family, they died. People died from COVID," Carmen Fuarez told CBS2's John Dias.

The newest high-profile case is New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, who tested positive Monday and will missing Tuesday's game.

"They might not do so well without their ace pitcher," Bronx resident Mike Kern said.

While Cole's vaccination status is unknown, the Bronx community that Yankee Stadium calls home -- zip code 10451 -- is at 49.35% vaccinated, below the city's average of 55.82%.


Free Yankee tickets in exchange for the vaccine didn't seem to entice many Tuesday, but one man said his fear of the Delta variant led him to get the shot.

"There's a lot of stuff going on across the country, and I don't want to get sick," said the man named Frank.

He said he already had COVID earlier in the year.

"When I had it, I felt so sick I thought was going to die, and people are dying," he said.

New Yorkers can still dine outdoors without proof of vaccination. To enter, you must show your paper card or a vaccine app, but New York State Restaurant Association President and CEO Melissa Fleischut said some members are worried.

"This adds another barrier to employment and there's a lot of concern as to how is this going to play out. If they get tested is that going to be acceptable? Is there no testing option for this or is it vaccine only?" Fleischut said.

Rozner did ask the Department of Health what the plan means for those who cannot get vaccinated due medical reasons. A spokesperson said the city would have more to say soon.

Outside Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday night, tensions got a bit heated.

Anti-COVID vaxxers protesting the Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett concert clashed with people standing in line and having to show proof of a vaccine to get inside.

"Everybody got to get vaccinated. Period. The end. End of story. Full stop. Done," said Mark Weiss, a visitor from Maryland.

"I believe we should all have freedom of choice," said John McGuigan of Cranford, New Jersey. "I am appalled, but I will not comply."

CBS2's Cory James, Lisa Rozner and John Dias contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story first appeared on August 3.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.