NYC Starts Enforcement of Vaccine Mandate

Mayor warns of consequences for violators
By Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
September 13, 2021 Updated: September 13, 2021

New York City started enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate Monday, with Mayor Bill de Blasio warning, “there’ll be consequences” for those who do not follow the rules.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate, also known as the Key to NYC, requires people 12 and older to show proof that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor dining, indoor fitness, and indoor entertainment.

Under the mandate, staff at these locations must be vaccinated as well. Places affected include restaurants, bars, nightclubs, catering halls, event spaces, gyms, fitness centers, pools, theaters, museums, aquariums, and zoos, among others.

“Look, you’ve got to be safe. Wherever you go—movie theater, gym, restaurant—you’re going to be safe,” de Blasio said during a virtual press conference Monday morning.

“For those who are unvaccinated, you got to make the move,” de Blasio continued.

De Blasio announced the mandate in early August and started the requirements on Aug. 17.

The mandate requires the establishments to put up certain signage and verify customers’ COVID-19 vaccine proof, such as vaccination cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York City vaccination records, other official immunization records, the NYC COVID Safe App, or the Excelsior Pass.

According to the New York City Department of Health, establishments can make some exceptions, such as for outdoor eating, allowing customers to use the bathroom, or for other reasons that will take a small amount of time, for example, less than 10 minutes.

Thirteen agencies will send out inspectors to enforce the mandate, the mayor announced.

“What we’re going to do is have our inspectors out from 13 civilian agencies,” de Blasio said. “We don’t want to fine people. We don’t have to. We want to just get it right and keep moving forward.”

“But I think folks understand by now we are resolute. And if anyone wants to not follow the rules that everyone else has to follow, then of course, there’ll be consequences,” de Blasio, a Democrat, added.

According to de Blasio’s legal counsel (pdf), an establishment found to be non-compliant may be subject to a fine of $1,000. Repeated violations may result in increased fine amounts or other enforcement action.

The enforcement seems to not be aimed at customers, but private businesses should call 911 to report an emergency or dangerous conditions when a customer refuses to cooperate, the counsels said.

The Epoch Times has contacted the mayor’s office for additional comments.

Last month, a group of restaurants sued New York City, calling the mandate “arbitrary, irrational, unscientific and unlawful.”

They argued that the new rules would severely harm their businesses and livelihood.

De Blasio said in August that he had “tremendous confidence that we’re in a very strong legal position” regarding the mandate.

During Monday’s virtual press conference, de Blasio announced that 79.4 percent of the city adults—over 5.6 million New Yorkers—had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is amazing,” the mayor declared.

According to data provided by the city’s Department of Health website, as of Sept. 13, only 50 percent of adult black NYC residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. This means 50 percent of adult blacks could be denied service under de Blasio’s mandate.

“We’ve got to work with everyone to get them vaccinated, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing—over and over and over again, using mandates, using incentives. Key to NYC helps us once and for all to fight off the Delta variant and defeat COVID and move forward as a city,” the mayor said during the briefing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Li Hai
Li Hai is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.