This week, New York City became the first U.S. city to require proof of vaccination to enter many indoor settings, including restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues.
NYC: 'It's time for mandates'
On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will require proof of at least one dose of vaccination for a variety of indoor activities, including dining at restaurants and visiting gyms and entertainment venues. Currently, about 66% of the city's population is fully vaccinated.
The new program, called the "Key to NYC Pass," will require NYC residents to show proof of vaccination via CDC's physical vaccine card, the city's new vaccine app, or the "Excelsior Pass," which is the state's digital vaccination record app. People will not have the option to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test as an alternative.
The mandate will be established via a health commissioner's order and a mayoral executive order, the New York Times reports. People will be encouraged to participate on a voluntary basis beginning Aug. 16. Then, on Sept. 13, after a public service announcement campaign, the program will be enforced—those who have not had at least one shot will be denied entry to applicable locations.
De Blasio—who said he consulted with the Department of Justice to ensure the legality of the requirement—did not say how the city will handle vaccinations that are not approved for use in the United States but are common among international tourists. The mayor added that while children younger than age 12 will likely not be excluded from venues because they are not eligible to be vaccinated, details about how they will be affected are still being worked out.
"This is something that we have to take into consideration," Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said. "As with any policy of this type, there will have to be some reasonable accommodations made."
In announcing the policy, de Blasio said, "If you want to participate in our society fully, you've got to get vaccinated."
"We've got to shake people at this point and say, 'Come on now,'" de Blasio continued. "We tried voluntary. We could not have been more kind and compassionate. Free testing, everywhere you turn, incentives, friendly, warm embrace. The voluntary phase is over. It's time for mandates, because it's the only way to protect our people."
However, de Blasio "stopped short" of reinstating a mask mandate, the New York Times reports, which many other large urban areas have done, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. De Blasio said mask mandates may disincentivize vaccinations.
LA moves to implement its own 'no shots, no service' mandate
On Wednesday, Los Angeles city lawmakers appeared to follow in New York's footsteps, approving a motion to implement a "no shots, no service" ordinance.
Specifically the motion would authorize the implementation of a requirement that anyone 16 and older would have to show proof of at least one vaccine dose before being permitted to enter restaurants, bars, retail businesses, gyms, spas, and various entertainment venues, NPR reports. The ordinance—which, if approved, aims to go into effect on Aug. 16—will require people to display either their hard copy version of CDC's vaccine card or provide electronic proof through the city's Excelsior app.
According to KTLA 5, the motion would ask the Los Angeles city attorney to prepare and present the ordinance and detail how businesses could adhere to such requirements. The motion now heads to the Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19 Recovery and Neighborhood Investment, where—if it passes—it will then head to the full City Council for approval.
"Enough is enough already," LA city council president Nury Martinez said. "Hospital workers are exhausted, moms who have put aside their careers are tired, and our kids cannot afford the loss of another school year."
She added, "We have three vaccines that work and are readily available, so what's it going to take? Our kids are about to return to school and the unvaccinated are putting their lives at risk every day. Ask your questions, talk to your doctor, and get the vaccine. Let's put this behind us."
Where other cities, localities stand
Other cities and localities have also indicated they are mulling following NYC's lead, but most other local leaders said they are currently focused on empowering local businesses to implement their own requirements.
For instance, on Tuesday, San Francisco health director Grant Colfax told reporters that while city officials were mulling a vaccine mandate similar to New York City's, the city at present is simply supporting those businesses that opt to implement their own vaccine requirement for customers.
"Right now, we've seen that a number of bars and restaurants and other entities are doing that," Colfax said. "And we're very supportive of that, and are encouraging people to take advantage of that policy."
Separately, Allison Arwady, Chicago's public health commissioner, said while that city won't immediately follow in New York City's footsteps, it will monitor NYC's program. "Certainly, we are interested in this. We'll be watching to see how this plays out, but we don't have a current plan to do something like that at the city level."
For his part, when asked if more cities and states should require a vaccine passport, President Joe Biden said Tuesday, "I don't think they need to do that. I think they just need to give the authority to those restaurants or businesses to say, in order to come in, you have to give proof that you've been vaccinated or that you can't come in." (Romo, NPR, 8/4; Salahieh/Wynter, KTLA 5, 8/4; del Castillo, ABC 7 News, 8/4; Ansari, Wall Street Journal, 8/3; Fitzsimmons et al., New York Times, 8/3; Gardner, Hollywood Reporter, 8/3; Hicks/Raskin, New York Post, 8/3)