New York becomes first U.S. city to force COVID vaccines into restaurants and gyms
NEW YORK, Aug. 3 (Reuters) – New York City will become the first major U.S. city to require proof of COVID vaccination for customers and staff at restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses as the country is entering a new phase of the fight against the highly contagious delta variant.
The announcement is the latest in a series of initiatives to encourage more residents to get vaccinated as the Delta variant spreads in the country’s most populous city. (Graph of American cases)
“We know that is what will turn the tide,” de Blasio said at a press conference.
About 60% of all New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to city data. But some areas, largely poor communities and communities of color, have lower vaccination rates.
The policy will be in effect from September 13. It is similar to the measures taken in France to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
As part of the initiative, the city is creating the “Key to NYC Pass” to provide proof of vaccination to workers and customers of fitness centers, restaurants and entertainment venues, the mayor said.
The announcement follows several measures taken by city officials to encourage residents who are still reluctant to get vaccinated, including a mandate for city employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly tests.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday urged bars, restaurants and other private businesses to demand that customers be vaccinated before they can enter.
De Blasio, however, stopped short of enforcing the face covering in indoor public places, saying instead that it was highly recommended.
The highly contagious Delta variant has taken its toll in the United States, leading to a worrying increase in infections and hospitalizations. (Graph on hospitalizations)
Florida and Louisiana were at or near their highest number of hospitalizations from the coronavirus pandemic this week, as a doctor warned of the “darkest days” to date.
More than 11,300 patients were hospitalized in Florida on Tuesday, representing nearly a quarter of the nation’s hospitalized COVID patients, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Louisiana was also struggling with one of the country’s worst epidemics, prompting Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, to order residents to wear masks indoors again.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, took the opposite position. He issued an executive order last week banning schools from requiring face coverings, saying parents should make the decision for their children.
Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Shumaker
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