NYC COVID vaccine mandate: Who is responsible for enforcement?

Local News

NEW YORK — Details about the implementation and enforcement of the city’s new vaccination requirement at restaurants, gyms, and theaters are still being worked out. However, one thing is certain:  it will not be enforced by the NYPD.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea made that point clear on the PIX11 Morning News on Wednesday.  

“It would be my desire that the NYPD is not a part of it,” Shea said during his morning show interview.

His boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, drove that point home at his daily news conference, too.

“This is a civilian approach,” the mayor said. “[The] Department of Health in particular,” he said, would enforce the requirement, “and we’re going to come forward over the next week or two with the specific rules.”

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The order goes into effect August 16 — less than two weeks from now. It’s supposed to start being enforced on Sept. 13.

Specifically, the businesses affected will be required to make sure that anyone entering their premises has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  

The rule applies to bars; restaurants; gyms and other fitness facilities; live theaters and movie theaters; and other indoor entertainment venues.  

Anita Trehan, the founder and CEO of Chaiwali, an Indian fusion restaurant in Harlem, will be ultimately responsible for her business checking its customers’ vaccination status.

“We would start with a sign in the front,” she said. “It would let patrons know that their status will be checked.  

Trehan called it “a sensitive way to handle customers.”

She said that her staff is fully vaccinated, and that it’s reasonable that their customers be vaccinated as well. Nonetheless, she added, she expects at least a few customers to balk at the requirement.  

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However, she added, she doesn’t anticipate that having a significant effect on business.

“I don’t think so,” Trehan said, “because it’ll be citywide.”

The city has more than 26,000 eateries, at least half of which are sit-down establishments.

At higher end restaurants, like Chaiwali, the clientele tends to be made up of mostly vaccinated people. However, the vaccination rule, called the Key to NYC Pass, applies to all sit-down restaurants, including fast food restaurants. 

McDonald’s says that it now requires masks to be worn indoors at its restaurants with seating in areas with high or significant COVID spread.  However, the fast-food giant did not respond to a request from PIX11 News for information on how it will comply with the vaccination requirement. 

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