Vaccination Requirements for NYC Restaurants On the Horizon?

July 29, 2021

Photo courtesy of The Denver Post

Just yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that “consumers in areas with high levels of new COVID-19 infections should resume wearing facemasks while dining in restaurants, regardless of their vaccination status.” Accordingly, Mayor de Blasio is now seriously considering implementing vaccination requirements for in-person diners in New York City. 

During a media appearance on The Brian Lehrer Show, Lehrer asked de Blasio about his thoughts regarding French President Emmanuel Macron’s vaccine mandate, which leverages entry into restaurants, cafes, and bars. The Mayor replied that “it is a direction we need to seriously consider…the Delta variant is changing this game rapidly.” During an appearance on the the MSNBC show Morning Joe, the Mayor also issued what his office coined “an official call” for restaurants, and all other businesses that depend on direct consumer contact, to voluntarily require proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests from guests as a condition of entry. De Blasio stated “any private sector entity, go ahead and do a full mandate… If that’s something you feel you can do and works for you, do it now… go as far as you can go right now because we have to stop the Delta variant.” 

These ideas are not necessarily new. San Francisco, for example, has already implemented such a conditional measure. A coordinated effort between the SF Bar Owner Alliance, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association resulted in 500 bars agreeing to make entry conditional on vaccination or a recent negative test. Any customers who cannot show this proof can still be served, but only in outdoor areas. 

One of the main objections to proof-of-vaccination requirements has been the very proof itself. Vaccination cards are obviously good proof, but they are notoriously flimsy and easy to counterfeit. In this case, however, New York is already one step ahead. Its NYS Excelsior Pass, which is a state-sanctioned smartphone app that indicates vaccination status, is the perfect safeguard, and solution to, this main point. 

As of now, mandates have not been issued for restaurant workers and customers.

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