NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio will require proof of vaccination for most indoor events in New York City, believed to be the first such mandate by an American city.
Dining at restaurants, working out at a gym, and attending a movie or play will all require proof of vaccination starting August 16.
Enforcement -- but not by police -- will begin on September 13, to coincide with the return of children to schools.
"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. 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."
The requirement will apply to both workers and customers, and there will be no option to display a negative test as the city attempts to promote vaccinations as the only way to "unlock New York City."
It will not apply to outdoor dining.
The de Blasio administration has been in conversations with leaders of the various industries to sell the policy, and the news comes weeks after the mayor said he would "seriously consider" a program similar to France's vaccine passport program.
"Not everyone is going to agree with this, I understand that," he said. "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 high level of vaccination in this city. That is the key to protecting people and the key to our recovery. That's why it's the key to NYC. The key to NYC Pass opens a lot of doors and we need it."
Children under 12 who are not yet vaccine eligible will still be allowed to go to indoor venues with their families.
"People have been asking, well if they are under vaccination age, can they go to restaurants and movies," de Blasio said. "Of course. We want families to be together."
De Blasio admitted many details of the broad policy have not yet been revealed.
"A lot of details to come," he said. "We are talking to the business community regularly, and we want to be clear about listening to all the input, constantly improving on the policy, but we know this will make a difference. "
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, released the following statement in response to mayor's announcement:
"Mandating vaccine requirements for restaurant and bar employees and customers to work and dine indoors is a very difficult step, but ultimately may prove an essential move to protecting public health and ensuring that New York City does not revert to restrictions and shut down orders that would again absolutely devastate small businesses that have not yet recovered from the pandemic. We know that a mandated vaccine requirement will pose economic and operational challenges to restaurants, particularly in communities with lower vaccination rates and hesitancy, however it will also alleviate the burden that restaurants and bars face when implementing this policy voluntarily. While having to require this requirement is far from ideal, now we need government to support restaurants, bars and workers with clear and fair guidelines, and an extensive outreach and education program, while also implementing more policies to support the industry's recovery."
COVID cases, specifically the delta variant, are on rise across the Tri-State region.
Vaccinations have already become a requirement at many businesses as leaders work to stop the spread.
De Blasio says he wants vaccinated people to voluntarily mask up indoors, but some have been calling for him to make that mandatory.
Eyewitness News was first to report Monday that de Blasio would not be issuing a new mask mandate.
However on Monday, he said the focus should be on getting more people vaccinated, which is the best protection against the highly contagious delta variant.
He added that the city's new $100 vaccine incentive has led to thousands of people taking advantage in recent days.
Health experts say that, yes, vaccinated people can potentially spread the delta variant, but 99% of hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated, making it so crucial for people to get the shot.
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