New York City Vaccine Requirement Begins

Carolyn Crist

August 18, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

New York City now requires proof of vaccination for certain indoor locations, such as restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues.

Anyone ages 12 and older must show vaccination proof by using their CDC vaccine card, New York State's Excelsior Pass or New York City's COVID Safe smartphone app, according to the city's website.

"We do not want to go back to restrictions," Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a virtual news conference on Tuesday.

"The key to continuing our progress is vaccination," he said.

The "Key to NYC" program began on Tuesday and will be fully enforced on Sept. 13. Customers, employees and contractors must show proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

The vaccination mandate, which was announced two weeks ago by de Blasio, is meant to encourage more people to get vaccinated to visit bars, restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, concert halls and indoor sports arenas.

The city launched a $10 million media campaign on Tuesday to inform residents and visitors about the new rule, according to The Associated Press. About 100 vaccination sites will be set up at gyms and other sites to encourage people to get a shot, and more than 600 canvassers will be sent out to help.

Businesses began enforcing the rule by posting signs on front doors and windows, as well as asking patrons to show proof as they entered, the AP reported. The mandate puts the burden on frontline service workers, such as servers and ticket agents, to enforce the new requirement, which could cause tension between customers and employees.

Even still, the complications could be worth it for businesses to stay open, according to business owners interviewed by the AP.

"This COVID is a big deal. So we need to do everything that we can to make sure that we get it in check," Leon Ellis, the owner of Chocolate, a restaurant in Harlem, told the news service.

"Whatever the guidelines are, we will comply," he said.


City of New York: "Key to NYC Program."

City of New York: "Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability."

WebMD: "New York City to Require Vaccination Proof for Indoor Dining, Gyms."

The Associated Press: "No shot, no proof, no service: NYC businesses begin checks."