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Vaccine Mandate In New York City Applies To Certain Indoor Venues

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

No shots, no service. That's the rule now in New York City, which is telling some businesses not to allow customers indoors unless they are vaccinated. It's the first major city to impose a mandate of this kind. NPR's Jasmine Garsd is in New York and is covering this story. Jasmine, good morning.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: OK. So if I live in New York and I'm going to the diner, or I'm visiting New York and, you know, going for a Broadway show or something, what do I need?

GARSD: Well, starting August 16, you're going to need to show that you got at least one shot either by showing the Excelsior Pass, which is the city's new vaccine pass, or the CDC paper vaccine card.

INSKEEP: OK. So you literally have to have something in your hand or maybe on your iPhone - I don't know - that shows that you're vaccinated. Has this been done anywhere before?

GARSD: Well, here in the U.S., it's pretty unprecedented. But it has happened in places like France and Israel. New York is only requiring one dose of the vaccine, which, depending on which vaccine you got, is technically not full immunization.

INSKEEP: That's interesting because some people do get the first shot and don't show up for the second. But is this a response to the latest surge, the delta variant?

GARSD: Yes, it is. But it's also definitely about encouraging New Yorkers to get vaccinated. Citywide, only about half of adults are fully immunized. And those numbers are a lot lower in certain communities. Only 31% of Black New Yorkers are vaccinated. And what we're starting to see is being called a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So the city has said it is investing in organizations to promote vaccination in these communities. At his press conference yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio sent a really clear message.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL DE BLASIO: This is what's going to turn the tide. And we also know that people are going to get a really clear message. If you want to participate in our society fully, you've got to get vaccinated. You've got to get vaccinated. It's time.

INSKEEP: Well, the science is pretty clear, Jasmine. But we know the politics and how politicized this has become and how many people have resisted. How are people reacting to this mandate?

GARSD: Oh, this is already causing controversy. One Republican councilmember called it discriminatory. He accused it of creating two different classes of people. But there's also a lot of support. The New York City Hospitality Alliance expressed that they support it. Several gym chains expressed support. You know, I think, at the end of the day, nobody wants to relive 2020, when everything closed down and businesses took a massive hit. And if this mandate avoids that, a lot of people are going to sign on.

INSKEEP: I'm just trying to imagine how this is enforced. I guess if you're giving your ticket at a theater, you can also show your pass at that time. But, like, what about ordinary businesses? If somebody just walks into a store, is the clerk supposed to demand a paper or kick somebody out?

GARSD: Absolutely. This is one of the big concerns that has been expressed by some businessowners. You know, what happens when tourists come to the city from areas where there's not a lot of vaccination? I've also heard a lot of concerns on the ground. As this plays out, who is enforcing this? Are we asking a person on minimum wage or less to play enforcer? This is a question that is definitely going to keep coming up. What we do know is the city health department has said businesses can be fined for not complying. And they're working out the rest of the details.

INSKEEP: Jasmine, thanks very much for the update, really appreciate talking with you.

GARSD: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Jasmine Garsd in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.