New York City museums will soon begin joining the indoor venues requiring visitors and employees to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 under an order issued today by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The new rule, expanding the city’s so-called Key to NYC programme, also applies to art fairs and convention centres and comes amid growing alarm over the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus. A previous order issued by the city required proof of vaccination for entering restaurants, gyms and a range of entertainment venues including theatres and concert halls.
While the policy will take effect on Tuesday, enforcement will not begin until 13 September to give businesses, cultural institutions and other entities and their employees time to adjust and for the city to educate the public in an aggressive media campaign. That starting date for enforcement also applies to the earlier edict, issued on 3 August.
“We’re saying get at least the first vaccination—of course the goal is to get everyone fully vaccinated—but get at least the first vaccination and you’ll be able to work or enjoy indoor dining, indoor fitness, indoor entertainment, concerts, movie theatres,” de Blasio said at a news conference.
Proof of vaccination can consist of an official vaccination card or a photograph of the document, as well as vaccination verification apps like New York State’s Excelsior Pass or the city’s NYC Covid SAFE. Children under age 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated, and will have to be accompanied by a vaccinated person and urged to wear masks.
Asked at the news conference about the economic repercussions for cultural institutions, which are operating at reduced capacity and struggling with a loss of revenue, de Blasio replied: “We are defined by our arts and culture in this city. So, having arts and culture come back, having performance come back meant a huge amount to New Yorkers and gave people hope.”
He added, “I would argue though, we have provided a lot of support, working with the City Council in the last budget, we increased cultural funding in a variety of ways. We also saw support from the federal government.”
“Defeating the Delta variant is the best way to support cultural institutions because it brings us all back, and we cannot defeat the Delta variant without a focus on vaccination,” the mayor says. His executive order notes that just 56% of New York City residents are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and that 62% have received at least one dose.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art issued a statement endorsing the policy. “We wholly support all efforts to increase vaccination rates–and we are working through how to operationalise the policy,” a spokesman says. “The Met has a been masked environment for almost a year. Visitor and staff safety is our top priority, and we look forward to implementing this mandate.”