New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday a new approach to thwarting the spread of the coronavirus that will require proof of vaccination in order to take part in indoor activities like dining at a restaurant, seeing a performance or going to the gym.
De Blasio said the "Key to NYC Pass" program will be phased in over about a month as the city works to gather input and finalize a policy, which is set to begin Sept. 13. That date is specifically chosen because it’s the first full week after Labor Day when city officials expect a lot more activity in the city after school resumes for the fall.
“It's time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary to living a good and full and healthy life,” de Blasio said Tuesday. “The Key to NYC Pass will be a first-in-the-nation approach. It will require vaccination for workers and customers in indoor dining, in indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment facilities. This is going to be a requirement. The only way to patronize these establishments indoors will be if you're vaccinated, at least one dose.”
The new requirement is the most aggressive step the city has taken yet to curb a surge in cases caused by the delta variant, NBC New York reported. Data shows that about 66 percent of adults in New York City are fully vaccinated.
The "Key to NYC Pass" will be its own digital platform, separate from the state's Excelsior Pass, though the latter will also be valid, as will paper vaccination cards.
De Blasio said some details still need to be worked out, including rules affecting children under 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
He also made “a strong recommendation” that everyone wear a mask in public indoor settings but stressed that the city’s “overwhelming strategic thrust” remained getting more people vaccinated, the Associated Press reported. De Blasio said the city’s focus now is on vaccines, but a mask mandate could also be on the table in the future.
Last week, de Blasio had announced that city employees would be required to get the vaccine by mid-September or face weekly testing, and the city has also offered a $100 incentive for city residents who get inoculated, which de Blasio said that between Friday and Tuesday, more than 11,000 New Yorkers had claimed the incentive with their first vaccination.