FLATBUSH, Brooklyn — On Tuesday, the city’s requirement that only vaccinated people be allowed into restaurants, bars, gyms, and entertainment and cultural venues went into effect. It was a day later than anticipated, and even some businesses working with city authorities to implement a vaccination status check admitted that doing so will take time.
Also, a few businesses made clear that they don’t intend to follow the vaccine mandate, even though it may cost them big in fines.
At the Blink Fitness gym, a mobile vaccination van was set up out front all day.
It was part of a larger effort by the city, which operates the van, and Blink Fitness to increase vaccination numbers overall.
David Collignon, the chief operations officer at Blink, coordinated the vaccination van program with the city. Vans were posted at eight of the fitness center’s 47 locations.
Collignon pointed out that vaccination appointments at the mobile sites are for anyone, not just members of the gyms where the vans are posted.
However, regarding Blink’s members, the COO said that they’ll be required to show proof of vaccination on a gradual basis, until the city’s Sept. 13 deadline for enforcement of the mandate.
“We’re working with our members to encourage them,” Collignon said, “to probably have to show us [their proof of vaccination] just one time.”
After that, he said, the company plans to enter each members’ vaccination status into the company’s check-in system. That way, he said, it comes up each time they swipe in. He admits that it could take a few weeks to fully activate the verification system.
Meanwhile, outside of the Blink Fitness gym, a steady stream of people kept showing up all day to get vaccinated.
Clay Broderick was among them. He said that the new vaccination requirement was part of the reason he’d decided to get a shot.
“That kinda like inspired me, encouraged me to get my vaccine done,” he said. “You need to be safe and also protect your loved ones.”
He also said that the city’s $100 debit card that it’s currently sending to people getting their first dose was an added bonus.
Despite the steady flow of people getting vaccinated, it still meant that about 60 to 70 people were showing up at each Blink Fitness mobile site, each day.
It may sound like a fairly low number, but as Dr. Leo Lopez, a policy advisor to the city’s Test and Trace Corps, said, the city’s strategy is to boost vaccination numbers at a wide variety of small, targeted sites.
“This is one piece of a more comprehensive plan to expand access to COVID vaccines,” Dr. Lopez said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, at his daily briefing on Tuesday, said that the strategy is working.
“For the first time since early June,” said the mayor, “we had over 100,000 first doses last week.”
The larger strategy to increase vaccinations features the vaccination mandate, which is officially called “Key to NYC,” as a main thrust. However, not every business is trying to comply with it.
Mary Josephine Generoso manages Pasticceria Rocco in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. She posted a large sign in the front window of the diner and pastry shop that reads, “We do not discriminate against any customer based on sex, gender, race, creed, age, vaccinated or unvaccinated…”
She said that her eatery does not intend to check anyone’s vaccination status, in defiance of the city’s mandate, and at the risk of being fined $1,000 for the first offense.
“Now we are going to have to discriminate against a group of people,” Generoso said. “It’s to me completely unconstitutional.”
In response, Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, said that the vaccine mandate promotes the health of all city residents, as opposed to COVID-19.
“What we know is that the coronavirus does not discriminate,” Dr. Chokshi said, during the mayor’s daily briefing. “It has caused so much suffering and illness across our city. And so, these actions that we are taking, including the Key to NYC, are focused on protection and safety and health.”