Retail Not Yet on the List for NYC Mayor’s New Required COVID-19 Vaccination Initiative

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio launched an initiative Tuesday that will require people 12 years old and older to have a COVID-19 vaccination to enter certain businesses.

The “Key to NYC Pass” will allow only people who are vaccinated to enter indoor restaurants, gyms and entertainment/performance venues like movie theaters, de Blasio said on Tuesday during a press conference.

While the mandate does not apply to retail stores at this time, the mayor said his team will look at other areas “where it makes sense to do something similar.”

For now, he said he purposely focused on the parts of city life “where people went for entertainment that are not the most essential services and where we think there is a particular need.” De Blasio said he expects the mandate to result in a much lower transmission of COVID-19.

De Blasio’s announcement came as the National Retail Federation issued a report saying that the economy’s future depends on slowing the spread of the virus.

“Vaccination is the key to further economic recovery, reopening and rebuilding,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in the group’s Monthly Economic Review report, written before the mayor’s announcement. “With the outlook for the global economy continuing to hinge on public health, vaccine numbers are extremely important, not just for the United States but for the whole world.”

The mayor’s new initiative will require people to show their vaccination card or prove a vaccine through a mobile app, the mayor said. Details will be finalized over the next two weeks along with input from the business community, de Blasio said. More details will be available the week of August 16 and penalties won’t go into place until the week of September 13, he said, which is the first day of school in NYC.

“The reason we are able to keep this city going strong is through vaccination,” said de Blasio, who has recently stopped short of mandating that people wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Rick Lee, owner of Soula Shoes in Brooklyn, said he thinks retailers would find it difficult to check the vaccination status of every person that comes into a store, if de Blasio expanded the vaccine requirement to retail stores. Instead, Lee said he prefers having a mask mandate, and he already requires masks at his store in Boerum Hill.

“I am all for requiring masking indoors at businesses, regardless of vaccination status, in order to stem the spread of the COVID variant,” Lee said in an email. “This is for the safety of our employees and customers. We have had friends who have contracted COVID despite having been vaccinated, so I think this is the right thing to do.”

At Eneslow Shoes & Orthotics, Robert Schwartz, president and CEO, said the staff at the retailer’s Third Avenue store is wearing masks. Schwartz added that he will require staff vaccinations as of August 16.

New York City reports that 60% of all residents in the five boroughs have one dose of the vaccine. About 55% of residents are fully vaccinated, the city data shows.

“Life is much better when you’re vaccinated,” DeBlasio later added at the press conference. “And it’s necessary given the pace of the Delta variant right now.”

Elsewhere in NYC, according to WWD, to attend NYFW: The Shows this September, IMG will require a full COVID-19 vaccination.

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