New York City started requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination at restaurants and gyms, according to the New York City government, coming a day after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that people have to also show proof of photo identification as well.
“We do not want to go back to restrictions,” de Blasio said during a news conference on Tuesday. “The key to our progress is vaccination.”
It came as museums and art galleries were also told to ask patrons to show proof of vaccination on Monday, according to the mayor’s office.
“And it’s easy, all you have to do is show proof of vaccination—that could be a CDC paper card, that could be an Excelsior Pass, an NYC COVID Safe app, whatever works,” de Blasio said on Monday. “All you got to do is show that proof and have ID as well, and it’s straightforward.”
The mayor announced the so-called “Key to NYC” vaccine mandate earlier in August requiring restaurants, entertainment, and gyms to check the vaccination status of customers and staff aged 12 and older. The mayor didn’t say how 12-year-olds and other minors could get a valid photo ID.
The signs at the Stop Inn went up Monday evening, said a server, to give customers due notice that on Tuesday it would begin complying with the mandate, reported The Associated Press.
Norbu Lama, 17, said he was surprised when a server asked for his vaccination card soon after he slid into a booth with his parents and younger sister.
“We didn’t know we had to bring it,” he told AP. The server appeared relieved when Lama and his family presented copies of their vaccination cards on their phone.
Some business owners criticized the mandate.
“NYC Mayor de Blasio just clarified that ID must also be shown along with proof of vaccination. So people need proper ID to be vaccinated, & matching ID must be shown each time to enter ALL restaurants & many other indoor venues in NYC. If voter ID laws are racist, then so is this,” said art gallery owner Eli Klein on Twitter.
Protesters also gathered at the New York City mayor’s mansion against the vaccine mandate.
According to recent data provided by the New York City Department of Health, only 34 percent of black New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 44 have received just one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while only 28 percent are fully vaccinated. Black New Yorkers between the age of 13 and 17 have an even lower vaccination rate.
Vaccine passport systems have been flagged by civil liberties groups and conservatives for potentially creating a segregated, two-tiered society of vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The concept has also been criticized as an invasion of individuals’ privacy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.