NEW YORK — Restaurant owners puzzled their way through health guidelines on Sunday, just hours before a vaccine mandate for indoor dining kicked in.
The plan, set to start Monday, requires vaccinations for all workers and customers at indoor dining, indoor fitness and indoor entertainment venues.
Most of the diners sat outside at Swing 46 on Restaurant Row on Sunday, listening to singer Sarah Hayes, but inside, manager Michelle Collier was looking at guidance from the NYC Hospitality Alliance and trying to figure out how to enforce the city’s vaccine mandate.
“It’s going to be difficult for us in the restaurant industry to try to enforce it,” Collier said. “We will try to find what strategies to use going forward and do the right thing.”
Across the street at Tito Murphy’s, they put the finishing touches on a sign telling customers to show proof of vaccination if they want to sit indoors.
“I am vaccinated. I fully support it,” Tracy Boak, a indoor dining customer, told PIX11 News.
Dr. Sheetal Marahaj, a tourist from Florida, said she thought the vaccine mandate was a great plan.
“I do think restaurants are going to suffer, but for the health of the country it’s important,” she added.
But close to 300 protestors with signs reading “vaccine mandates equal communism” and “not anti-vac just anti-mandate” at a rally outside Gracie Mansion would strongly disagree.
Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa led the attacks on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate.
“There is no need for these mandates,” Sliwa told the crowd of protesters. “The mandates are to keep de Blasio in power, to keep City Council in power so they can dictate what we do in our lives and also for our children.”
A spokesperson for Democratic Mayoral candidate Eric Adams said Adams supports the mandates “for the health and future of New York, and has spearheaded an all-out push to increase vaccinations in under-vaccinated communities.”
The new policy, called Key to NYC Pass, will be phased in slowly, de Blasio has said.
“We want to give businesses big and small a chance to get acclimated,” de Blasio said in announcing the plan. “We want to make adjustment on their input but this will move forward starting the week of August 16th with full enforcement week of September 13th.”
The plan also has support from some front-line doctors taking care of COVID patients, including Lenox Hill pulmonologist Dr. Len Horovitz.
“I am totally in favor of vaccine mandates,” Dr. Horovitz told PIX11 News. “I am a bit of a warrior. I feel that people who simply don’t want to do it have to be forced to do it by some means or we’re or we’re never going to vaccinate our way out of it.”