New Yorkers will soon have to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 for indoor public activities, including gyms, concerts and eateries, as the Delta variant spreads in the nation’s most populous city, officials said on Tuesday.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the new rules would be enforced from September 13, making New York the first big American city to require proof of vaccination. A similar mandate has been issued in France.
The mayor is understood to be loath to require New Yorkers to once again don masks in public indoor spaces, and requiring proof of vaccination is seen as a way to encourage more people to roll up their sleeves for shots.
“We think it is so important to make clear that if you are vaccinated, you get to benefit in all sorts of ways,” Mr de Blasio said in a television interview this week.
“If you’re unvaccinated, there are going to be fewer and fewer things that you’re able to do.”
As part of the initiative, the city is creating a proof of vaccination pass to enter public indoor spaces. As well as the city’s new digital app, the state’s Excelsior app or a paper vaccination record will be accepted.
Once the global epicentre of the pandemic, New York has run a successful vaccination programme and some two thirds of adults are now fully vaccinated — but some pockets of the city have significantly lower rates and vaccine hesitancy is a nationwide concern.
Officials are moving aggressively to vaccinate more New Yorkers to curtail a third wave of coronavirus cases, spurred by the Delta variant. City workers must be vaccinated or face weekly testing.
The mayor has also offered $100 incentives for city residents to receive the shot.
His moves follow recent findings by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that the Delta strain of Covid-19 can spread among vaccinated people, and health authorities have recommended vaccinated Americans wear masks in indoor public places where there is a higher level of contagion.
The requirement is a partial turnaround for the mayor, who was last week talking up New York’s “rebirth” and announcing the line-up for a blockbuster August 21 Central Park outdoor show featuring Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and others.