As COVID-19 cases have begun to spike again in parts of the United States like Florida and Louisiana, spurred on by the hyper-contagious delta variant, New York City is ramping up efforts to keep new outbreaks at bay, ensuring its population remains safe.
Wilson Wong of NBC News has reported that following an announcement by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday, Aug. 3, the Big Apple will become the first major U.S. city in the country to endorse a variety of “vaccine passports,” requiring proof of vaccination for most types of indoor leisure activities, including indoor dining, gyms and concerts.
Dubbed the “Key to NYC Pass,” de Blasio said the program will officially begin the week of Sept. 13. The time between now and then will serve as a transition period for unvaccinated citizens to get vaccinated and for businesses to make sure they have operational plans ready to enforce the new policy.
“It is time for people to see vaccinations as literally necessary to living a good, full and healthy life,” De Blasio said. “If you’re unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things.”
While the mayor pointed out that “not everyone’s going to agree with this,” he will proceed with the policy anyway because, ultimately, proof of vaccination is “lifesaving.”
According to Wong, “the mandate is the latest attempt by de Blasio to encourage more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Last week, he required city workers to get vaccinated or face weekly testing and offered a $100 incentive for New Yorkers.”
Currently, an estimated 70% of adults in NYC have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, while 66% of the city’s adult population is already fully vaccinated.
“De Blasio said the city would issue a health commissioner’s order and a mayoral executive order for the mandate,” Wong reported. “The transition period beginning Aug. 16, according to the mayor, will mostly be spent reaching out to businesses and getting feedback about the new program.”
Ultimately, de Blasio said the message of New York City’s new policy should be clear for all: “If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated. It’s time.”
New York City will offer three variations of viable vaccination “passports”: residents can use the city’s COVID-19 Safe App, the state’s Excelsior app, or go old-school and show their actual vaccination card.
How the new policy will impact businesses operating within the city and how the policy applies to tourists visiting the region is still being determined.