'Little Whiskey Bar' by MassiveKontent is licensed with CC BY 2.0
Aug 3, 2021
Industry workers react to the city’s new vaccine mandate for indoor dining, fitness
Restaurant workers and trainers almost universally support the new program, which starts Aug. 16: 'A huge win'
Mayor Bill De Blasio announced on Tuesday that proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine will be required for both workers and customers at indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment establishments, making New York City the first to do so in the nation.
“If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated,” De Blasio said at his live-streamed news conference, “It’s time.”
The announcement comes as the Delta variant has caused an uptick in coronavirus cases in New York, just a month after the city fully reopened. Still, the pandemic has effectively become one of the unvaccinated. Less than 0.004 percent of fully vaccinated people have had a so-called breakthrough case that led to hospitalization, according to CNN. Less than 0.001 percent of fully vaccinated people died from a breakthrough Covid-19 case.
De Blasio had been strongly encouraging residents to get vaccinated before Tuesday’s announcement. About two-thirds (or 66 percent) of adults in the city are fully vaccinated, according to city data, although that number is lower in Brooklyn at 60 percent.
The news was met with almost universal relief from industry workers in the borough.
“We beat the mandate by a day: We implemented mandatory vaccination for indoor dining and drinking yesterday as well as mandated masks while walking around the bar,” says Ivy Mix, a co-owner of Leyenda in Boerum Hill. “It’s very unfortunate we have to be at this place but our hope is that this will mean we get to take the masks off permanently quickly … Luckily in Brooklyn I don’t feel much pushback, but I feel for people who are getting angry people and angry Yelp reviews for no other reason than trying to keep our communities safe.”
Other owners are a bit less sanguine.
“I would love everyone that dines with us to be vaccinated. That said, requiring proof?” asks Ted Fleetwood Nugent, owner of Cebu Bistro in Bay Ridge, who believes it would be tough to substantiate diners’ status. “I also don’t believe the numbers support such a requirement.”
It’s not just restaurant workers who are reacting. One Brooklyn-based personal trainer who works with clients at their homes and in private gyms says she is “very pleased” by the news.
“It will help myself and all my clients feel more safe and at ease especially in a space where people are breathing heavily in an indoor space,” she says. “Also anything to encourage more people to get vaccinated is obviously a huge win.”
For its part, the CDC recommends wearing masks indoors even if you’ve been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. At least one study has found that a just single dose of the Pfizer vaccine had an effectiveness of just 34 percent against the Delta variant, compared with 51 percent against the older alpha variant in terms of warding off symptomatic disease.
De Blasio is calling the new requirement the “Key to NYC Pass Program,” which is set to launch August 16 with an enforcement date of September 13. Residents themselves will be able take comfort in knowing they’ll be interacting with exclusively vaccinated people indoors going forward, but the economic ramifications of the requirement for local businesses remains to be seen.
Or as one Windsor Terrace bistro owner put it: “Vaccines: we’re loving it. Now bring back booze to-go, assholes.”
To get a quick and easy vaccination appointment, visit https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov/.
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