New York City Mayor Eric Adams Friday announced that the city’s vaccine passport system and school mask mandates will expire on Monday, March 7.
The mayor’s decision comes as a number of other Democrat-led cities, municipalities, and states have dropped COVID-19-related rules in recent weeks. They have cited a drop in the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide.
“This is about giving people the flexibility that is needed to continue allow not only safety, but we have to get our economy back on track,” Adams told reporters during an announcement at Times Square. “It’s time to open our city and get the economy back up and operating.”
New York City, under the de Blasio administration, became one of the first places in the United States last year to impose a vaccine passport system, impacting restaurants, gyms, sports venues, concerts, and similar businesses.
Critics say that the mandate created a two-tier society of vaccinated and unvaccinated people and also led to the unfair demonization of people who haven’t received the shot. A number of protests erupted across the city with thousands of demonstrators walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and other bridges in protest of the rules.
Starting in late 2021, New York City also has laid off thousands of workers, including police officers and firemen, who did not comply with the city’s vaccine mandate.
More than 77 percent of eligible New Yorkers are vaccinated for COVID-19, said NYC Health Commissioner David Chokshi on Friday.
On Friday, Adams appeared not to rule out bringing back mask mandates and the city’s vaccine passport system in the future by saying that the city’s COVID-19 data is playing play a role in dropping the vaccine and mask rules.
“So long as our indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week, on Monday, March 7 we will also remove the vaccination requirements for Key2NYC—meaning indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment venues,” Adams wrote on Twitter, referring to the city’s vaccine passport system. “We’re taking this week to give business owners the time to adapt while we monitor the numbers to ensure we are making the best public health decisions for the people of New York.”
One reason for the rollback in COVID-19 rules, Adams said, is because they hurt the city’s economy. In recent weeks, the mayor has made a plea to certain businesses to allow their workers to start going to their New York City-based offices again.
“We have to get our economy back on track,” Adams said. “It’s time to reopen our city.”