New York Mandates Vaccines for Diners and Staff

The requirement takes effect in September. The first of its kind, other cities are considering the same route.

Starting mid-September, New York City will limit entrance into restaurants to customers who can prove they’d had at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot.

Restaurant employees will also be required to produce proof of vaccination.

This announcement makes New York City the first in the US to require vaccines at restaurants. However, other cities and counties indicated they were also considering this move, before the announcement.

New York City officials expect other areas to follow their lead in the near future. The mandate is said to have been shaped with input from the industries affected, including gyms and entertainment facilities.

The full details will be announced in mid-August. Particulars yet to be worked out include how the programme will apply to children under age 12.

Deliberations will also examine how the vaccine requirement will affect restaurants’ labour requirements and whether city aid will need to be provided.

The National Restaurant Association has already expressed its concerns.

Larry Lynch, the association's SVP of science and industry, said the responsibility for verifying the vaccination status of both customers and employees falls to the employer.

Checking vaccination status is not like verifying customer ID, which staff receive training for. Without training, staff members are expected to verify the vaccine status of every customer wanting to dine in.

When mask mandates were applied last year, restaurant staff suffered appalling backlash trying to enforce those rules, said Lynch.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance also expressed concerns about the impact of the mandate on economics and operations. However, it also noted that the mandate will alleviate the responsibility of enforcing this policy voluntarily. The mandate may also prevent more drastic measures if the delta variant of the covid virus becomes unmanageable again.

During the press conference announcing the vaccine mandate, penalties were not revealed but it was stressed that compliance is required.