NYC will require vaccine proof to dine in and work out

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Four months after New Yorkers, first adults and now children 12 and older, have been eligible to get the vaccine, just over half of New Yorkers, 55%, are fully vaccinated. Over time the mayor has offered both carrot and stick to get more shots into arms, including a mandate for city employees to get vaccinated or submit to regular testing, and a $100 incentive to anyone who gets the shot.

Against this backdrop, the coronavirus delta variant has been causing an uptick in cases across the county.

While de Blasio is emerging as the first U.S. official to bring the vaccination battle to the social sphere, he does so in the wake of a similar measure put in place by French President Emmanuel Macron. France’s initiative is also focused on leisure activities like gyms, museums and restaurants, but vaccination mandates for health care workers have also taken root in countries like Italy and Greece.

Weighing in on New York City’s move Tuesday, law professor James Hodge from Arizona State University called the mandate totally legal and pointed to a paper he and his colleagues wrote on the issue.

“Such vaccination verification is already standard in certain settings. For example, international travelers have had to demonstrate compliance with specific country’s vaccination schedules for decades,” Hodge said in an email. “That Covid-19 vaccine passports may be required in other situations like in person dining is consistent with public health and safety.”

On the flip side, however, Hodge noted how “debates over autonomy and personal liberty have led other states to legislatively prohibit such passports.”

Florida, which leads the country in new Covid-19 cases, is among those states to have banned businesses from requiring proof of vaccination from their customers. The move quickly inspired a lawsuit, however, from Norwegian Cruise Lines, which says the law harms its business as well as the safety of its staff and customers.

As Hodge sees it, the fight against vaccine mandates is a losing one. “Widespread objections to passport requirements based on privacy concerns via the HIPAA Privacy Rule are unfounded since only certain entities, namely health care providers, are covered by the rule,” he noted.

Many other private-sector companies including Google have announced employee-vaccination rules, and a Texas hospital system with a similar requirement has already survived its first court bout. Tyson Foods, one of the nation’s leading meat processors and an early example of community spread in the pandemic, announced Tuesday that it will require employees to get vaccinated.

President Joe Biden extended a mandate just last week for all federal employees.

While other cities like Los Angeles are grappling with resumed mask mandates to rein in the disease, de Blasio has so far resisted that measure.

Celine Gounder, an assistant professor at  NYU Grossman School of Medicine, says vaccines are the only way out of this, stressing the delta variant brings a new challenge to the pandemic.

“I’m very much in support of the mayor’s new policies,” Gounder said at Tuesday’s press conference. “Anything to encourage people to get vaccinated and get back to life as New Yorkers.”

Under the new program, unvaccinated New Yorkers cannot dine out at restaurants unless they sit outside. To get a seat inside they will have to present their vaccination card, or show proof of vaccination using one of two apps created by the city.





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