NYC’s vaccine mandate starts a day later than expected, adding to confusion and controversy

Local News

NEW YORK — Monday was the day that most businesses had anticipated that the city’s vaccination requirement would be implemented, but Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that it wouldn’t go into effect until Tuesday.

That added to confusion that had already existed about the mandate, and it also added to the controversy over it.

The mayor, when asked at his daily news conference about the situation, gave a clarification.

“We said the week of August 16th,” the mayor said.

He pointed out, accurately, that when he first announced the mandate on Aug. 3, he’d said that this week would be the rollout.

“We needed to just get a few more of the fine tunings going there to address it,” he said.  “And so, we wanted to get this word out today, put everything out there, start it formally tomorrow.”

So, Tuesday, Aug. 17, is the actual start of the mandate, which the city has dubbed the “Key to NYC Pass.”

Not everyone was impressed with the new start date.

“Did the pathogen clock out today?” asked Christine Salica, “and it’s clocking in tomorrow?” 

She was one of a few dozen protesters outside City Hall on Monday.  They were demonstrating against the vaccination mandate, and her comment underscores how much confusion there is surrounding its implementation.

The changed date of debut also magnified its controversy among protesters.  

John Rao, a professor at St. John’s University, was in attendance at the demonstration. He said that he was against the vaccine, against the vaccination requirement, and against weekly testing of workers by institutions, as some of them, including his own university, require.

Also on Monday, all of the state’s health care workers were ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be vaccinated by Sept. 27 — a month after he’ll be gone from office.

Mandates like that, however, come with challenges.

Customs and Border Protection agents keep seizing shipments of fake vaccination cards sent from China, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, on Sunday, called for more federal action to block such efforts.  

Mayor de Blasio agreed that more needs to be done at all levels of government law enforcement to crack down on vaccination card forgeries.

“So long as people get the message that enforcement is happening and that there are real penalties,” the mayor said, “I think that will overwhelmingly address the problem.”

Most people who’ve spoken with PIX11 News about vaccination status in the last few weeks have said that they either favored or didn’t mind a vaccine mandate.  

It won’t be enforced by the city until Sept. 13.  A $1,000 fine is the penalty for a first offense.

The mandate applies to indoor activities only.

That option may be convenient for unvaccinated bar and restaurant customers, for now, as Hannah Benzion, a customer in the outdoor seating area at a restaurant in the Financial District, said.

She pointed out that she’s fully vaccinated, but said that outdoor eating and drinking options “still allows other people to participate in activities like eating out.”

“They just don’t get to go inside,” she continued.

The mandate is expected to be in place for the foreseeable future, including into the autumn and winter months, when the weather cools.

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