(Bloomberg) — New York City is expanding its vaccine mandate to museums and other entertainment and cultural institutions, requiring both visitors and staff to have at least their first Covid-19 shot starting on Tuesday.
The move announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio during a briefing on Monday expands an earlier vaccine requirement issued for indoor dining that goes into effect this week. The newest rules cover sports stadiums, casinos, movie theaters and concert halls, among other venues.
De Blasio’s gambit puts a national and international spin on his efforts to boost vaccinations in the most-populous U.S. city. Many of the attractions under the latest mandate are among those that New York has relied upon to attract tourists by the tens of millions as one of its economic pillars. Now, the mayor wants to send a message that residents and visitors have to be vaccinated in order to fully partake in New York City’s cultural and entertainment offerings.
“The key to New York City is an approach that starts with vaccination,” de Blasio said. “We want you to enjoy New York City but you need to be vaccinated to do it.”
De Blasio has failed so far to reach his June goal of fully vaccinating 5 million New Yorkers, despite providing $100 gift cards and other incentives to encourage people to get the shot. Only 56%, or 4.7 million people, are fully vaccinated, according to city data.
Still, the mayor said that the combination of incentives and mandates are working and that vaccinations jumped by 32% in the last week. All public workers are required to get the vaccine by Sept. 13 or submit to weekly testing.
Visitors will be asked to show proof of at least one vaccine shot to enter restaurants, theaters and other indoor sites. The effort will come with a $10 million advertising campaign, according to an email detailing the policy from the mayor’s office.
Children under age 12, who aren’t currently eligible for vaccination, will still be allowed in the venues but must be accompanied by someone who is vaccinated. They will also be asked to wear masks, according to the policy.
Museums, cultural institutions and entertainment venues will be asked to provide the front line of enforcement, backed up by workers from the city Health Department and sheriff’s office beginning Sept. 13.
Penalties for businesses that don’t comply start at $1,000 and can go as high as $5,000 for repeated violations, according to City Hall spokesman Mitchell Schwartz. Restaurants and other venues wouldn’t be fined for failing to catch people using forged vaccination documents, Schwartz said.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is “wholly supportive” of the mandate, said spokesman Ken Weine.
“The Met has been open without interruption for now a year during the pandemic –- and keeping staff and visitors safe is our top priority,” Weine said. “While our visitor numbers have grown each month – and now more than half come from outside New York City – the Mayor is exactly right that the only route to continued progress is higher vaccination rates.”
The city said the current vaccine mandates don’t apply to office buildings, schools, senior centers and child-care centers. De Blasio said there were no current plans to issue vaccine mandates for teachers and school staff.
Also on Monday, outgoing Governor Andrew Cuomo said that nursing home staff, hospital employees and other health-care workers would be required to have at least their first Covid vaccine by Sept. 27. Cuomo, is resigning this month amid sexual harassment allegations, said incoming governor Kathy Hochul was briefed prior to the announcement.