NEW YORK CITY — Local governments in New York can expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to restaurant workers, taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers, and developmentally disabled facilities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.
The expansion was made possible by another increase in vaccine supply from the federal government, according to Cuomo. New York is now expected to receive a 20% increase in the number of vaccines it receives for the next three weeks.
The decision on whether to add any of the three new groups to the 1B vaccination category is up to local governments. Cuomo said he wanted to give local leaders the flexibility to decide which group or groups to prioritize based on their individual circumstances.
The move could impact New York City’s 200,000 drivers licensed by its taxi commission, as well as over 800,000 restaurant and food service workers.
Bill Neidhardt, the mayor’s press secretary, said the city will look into the possible expansions.
“We’re glad that the discussion around expanding eligibility for more New Yorkers continues to move forward. We need as many New Yorkers to be vaccinated as quickly as possible and the City is looking at these new allowances,” Neidhardt said.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, applauded Cuomo’s announcement.
“Since COVID-19 struck New York City, restaurant workers have been heroes on the frontlines interacting with the public to sustain our city’s food supply, feeding our most vulnerable populations and helping maintain some sense of normalcy in our communities by offering limited dining options,” Rigie said in a statement. “The NYC Hospitality Alliance is committed to advocating for our industry, and is ready and willing to support vaccine education and outreach to the restaurant community immediately upon its availability to these essential workers.”
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.