Aug. 16, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Business owners who operate a bar, restaurant, gym or similar establishment must require their customers and workers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to gain entry starting Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.
The businesses that fail to comply with the vaccine mandate will face fines starting at $1,000 when enforcement begins on Sept. 13. Repeat offenders will be fined up to $5,000 per violation.
The city requires business owners to check that their customers and employees have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to be permitted inside under the new mandate, which the city has dubbed “Key to NYC.”
Businesses are only permitted to allow customers and workers inside who can show proof of vaccination either through the NYC COVID Safe app; the New York State Excelsior Pass; the CDC vaccination card — which all Americans receive when vaccinated; or a photo of their vaccine record.
New Yorkers can download the NYC COVID Safe app for Android or IOS and upload a photo of their vaccine card in order to use it, or they can get the state Excelsior Pass on the state website by answering questions about their vaccination.
Residents can also request vaccine records from the NYC Dept. of Health.
The city also requires business owners to train their staff as to what is considered acceptable proof and have a written plan for the implementation of the policy.
The business operators are only permitted to allow an unvaccinated person inside if it is to use the restroom, pick up or place an order, or any other reason that takes a short amount of time. Unvaccinated customers are permitted to sit or dine outside.
Children 12 and under are also not subject to vaccine restrictions.
Businesses must also post signage, available on the city’s website, to inform customers of the vaccine requirement.
The city has provided a list of business types where proof of the vaccine is required to gain entry. They include restaurants, bars, nightclubs, catering halls, coffee shops, hotel banquet rooms, grocery stores with indoor dining, movie and performing arts theaters, concert venues, museums and galleries, aquariums and zoos, professional sports arenas, indoor stadiums, exhibition halls, bowling alleys, arcades, indoor play areas, gyms and fitness centers, indoor pools and dance studios.
De Blasio said the mandate is part of the city’s strategy to make sure that more residents get vaccinated amid the spread of the highly-contagious delta variant. About 63 percent of all New York City residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
In Queens, 69 percent of residents have had at least one shot.
“The Key to NYC is an approach that makes clear the power of vaccination,” he said during a morning press conference. “It is the ultimate encouragement to get people vaccinated, to say, there are so many amazing things in this city that you can participate in if you’re vaccinated.”
De Blasio added that the mandate specifically is a way to get more young people, in their 20s and 30s, vaccinated.
The mandate doesn’t apply to residential and office buildings, childcare programs and schools, senior centers, community centers, soup kitchens and food pantries.
The city is launching an aggressive outreach campaign, including a $10 million multi-platform paid media campaign, to inform business owners about the new mandate ahead of enforcement.
Business owners with questions are advised to call the NYC Department of Small Business Services hotline at 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692), 311, or go online to nyc.gov/keytonyc.