New York to introduce vaccine pass for restaurants, gyms, shows

New York (AFP) –


New York City will require proof of vaccination for people attending indoor venues such as restaurants, gyms and shows, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday, making it the first major US city to introduce a vaccine pass.

"If you're vaccinated... you have the key, you can open the door. But if you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things," de Blasio told a press conference.

With coronavirus cases again surging in the United States, de Blasio said that a health pass called the "Key to NYC" would be launched on August 16, followed by a transition period before enforcement a month later.

"It's time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary to living a good, and full and healthy life," said de Blasio.

In recent weeks, the mayor, and the governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, have issued regulations tightening vaccination rules as the United States struggles to suppress the Delta variant.

New York state will require all "public-facing" health care workers to get vaccinated from September, and all of the state's tens of thousands of employees to show proof of vaccination or face weekly tests.

In New York, a city of more than eight million inhabitants, 71.8 percent of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to official figures.

- Vaccinations stall -

The moves come as the United States grapples with boosting vaccination rates, which have stalled badly for months despite the US having the highest supply of any country.

Many unions and critics of mandates have spoken out against required vaccinations, citing personal freedom arguments.

The country on Monday hit President Joe Biden's goal of administering at least one dose of a Covid vaccine to 70 percent of adults almost a month late, as the newest wave of infections pushes hospitalizations to levels seen last summer.

Falling vaccination rates, particularly in politically conservative regions in the South and Midwest, and among younger people, those with lower income and racial minorities, meant the July 4 was missed.

America is being battered by the hyper-contagious Delta variant, which has sent national daily cases soaring.

Across the country, hospitals have seen on average more than 6,200 daily Covid admissions, while more than 300 people are dying every day.

Momentum is picking up for vaccine mandates in the private sector, with Disney and Walmart implementing new requirements and incentives for employees.

Last week, Biden's administration announced federal workers would need to either get vaccinated or submit to regular tests, following similar steps by California and New York.

US health authorities last week reinstituted guidance for fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas considered high-risk.