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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday the first government-issued mandate in the United States requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for people participating in indoor activities.
Workers and customers of indoor restaurants, gyms, and entertainment and performance venues will be required to show a vaccination card or a city or state vaccination “pass,” or they will be denied entry.
During a news briefing Tuesday, de Blasio said: “This is crucial because we know this will encourage a lot more vaccinations. We know this is what’s going to turn the tide.”
The program, called The Key to NYC Pass, will be rolled out this month, and enforcement will start on September 13. de Blasio administration officials told the New York Post it is modeled after vaccine passport programs in European countries, such as France.
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged businesses throughout the state to turn away unvaccinated customers but did not issue a statewide mandate.
“If you are unvaccinated, the Delta variant should be a major concern to you, and you should be worried about it,” Cuomo said.
De Blasio said last month his city would require all municipal workers – including teachers and police officers – to get coronavirus vaccines by September 13 or receive weekly COVID-19 testing.
Last week, US President Joe Biden announced that all federal workers would need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements, and travel limits. The federal requirement followed similar requirements for state workers issued by Cuomo and Gavin Newsom, the governor of California.
The government mandates and requirements come as major businesses begin their own vaccine mandates for workers and mask mandates for customers.
BREAKING: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces "first-in-the-nation" requirement for employees and customers of indoor dining establishments, fitness facilities and entertainment facilities to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. https://t.co/Jg2mKsIFpkpic.twitter.com/r2ikKacwUs
New York City’s new program comes as cases surge due to the highly contagious Delta variant.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Monday that as of Saturday, there were nearly 72,000 new cases per day of COVID-19, a 44 percent increase over the previous week and higher than the peak set in the summer of 2020.
Hospital admissions have increased 41 percent, and deaths had increased to 300 per day, a 25 percent jump, she said.
Amid the rise in cases, there has also been an increase in vaccinations after weeks of decreasing numbers.
White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Monday that nearly 70 percent more people are being vaccinated every day over the past few weeks. Three million people in the U.S. have received their first shot in the last seven days, and the country reached 70 percent of adults having at least one vaccine shot on Monday.
He added, though, that “there are still about 90 million eligible Americans who are unvaccinated, and we need them to do their part.”