By Mario Villar
New York, Aug 3 (EFE).- Only people who can show proof of having been vaccinated for Covid-19 will be allowed to enter bars, gyms or entertainment venues in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
The Big Apple becomes the first city in the United States to take such a drastic step, which comes amid a surge in new infections and hospitalizations due to the more contagious Delta variant of coronavirus.
Days after the city began offering people $100 to get vaccinated, the administration decided that additional steps were needed.
“So today I announce a new approach, which we are calling the ‘Key to NYC Pass,'” De Blasio said. “The key to NYC, when you hear those words, I want you to imagine the notion that because someone is vaccinated they can do all the amazing things available in New York City.”
The move by the outgoing mayor follows the imposition of vaccine requirements by a number of businesses in the city.
“This is a miraculous place literally full of wonders. If you are vaccinated all that is going to open up to you, you have the key, you can open the door. If you are unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things. That’s the point we are trying to get across,” De Blasio said.
Though the order takes effect Aug. 16, full enforcement will not begin until Sept. 13, when schools re-open. The mandate will apply both to customers and employees of the affected establishments.
While proof of vaccination is to be required for indoor dining, the unvaccinated will be able to dine in outdoor sections of restaurants.
The mayor said the city government received assurance from the US Department of Justice that the order is legal, even though the various Covid-19 vaccines are still be administered under emergency use authorization.
Unlike the health passes instituted in France and Italy, the Key to NYC Pass does not offer the option of presenting a negative Covid-19 test in lieu of being vaccinated.
“Not everyone is going to agree with this, I understand that. But for some people, this is going to be the life-saving act. We are putting a mandate in place. It will guarantee a much higher level of vaccination in this city. That is the key to protecting people and the key to our recovery,” De Blasio said.
The pandemic has claimed more than 33,000 lives in New York City, where 66 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated and 72 percent have had at least one dose, according to figures from the municipal government.
Around 11,000 people have taken advantage of the $100 vaccination incentive since it was introduced last Friday, De Blasio’s office said, yet vaccine uptake remains low in some parts of the city.
The mayor introduced the vaccine requirement a day after saying that while he was urging people to wear masks indoors, he had no plans to re-impose a mask mandate. EFE mvs/dr