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NYC to mandate vaccines for staff and customers of indoor businesses

Restaurants, gyms, entertainment venues, and other indoor businesses must require proof of vaccination; proof of vaccine will also be required for the city's outdoor Homecoming Concerts

UPDATE: The Mayor’s office has updated the confusing “Key to NYC Pass” plan language to “unlock New York City”. 

New York City will become the first major U.S. city to require proof of at least a first dose COVID vaccination for customers and staff at restaurants, gyms, and other indoor businesses as the country enters a new phase of battling the highly contagious Delta variant.

The “Key to NYC Pass” policy will start August 16th and be fully enforced (not clear by whom) starting Sept. 13. There is no “Key to NYC Pass”, the plan involves using the NY State Excelsior Pass app, the NYC COVID SAFE app, and paper vaccination cards.

During his press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio also explained that the city’s various “homecoming” concerts, which will take place outdoors will nevertheless require attendees to provide proof of vaccine. “Our homecoming concerts are going to be amazing,” de Blasio said. “But if you want to go to one, you have to be vaccinated. That’s a requirement.”

De Blasio said City Hall is finalizing the regulations, including if children younger than 12 years old with vaccinated parents will be allowed to dine indoors. Additionally, the mayor said the city is examining expanding the vaccine proof requirement to other indoor activities, such as shopping. The specifics of the new policy will be finalized by the week of Aug. 16, de Blasio said. In the meantime, we can only speculate about what qualifies as “indoor entertainment,”  whether vendors will be included in the policy, who will enforce whatever the policy turns out to be and how long it will go on.

The Broadway League earlier announced that its theaters will require proof of vaccines and masks for audiences, performers, and staff.


New Yorkers will be required to show either the state’ “Excelsior Pass,” or the city’s “NYC COVID SAFE” vaccine pass, or Center for Disease Control’s paper vaccine card, as proof of vaccination, according to the mayor. Vaccinated residents not wanting to carry around their paper card record will be forced (for now at least) to rely on the Excelsior Pass Wallet, an app which has proved glitchy for some and completely unusable by others, or a new city-exclusive NYC COVID SAFE app that debuted on July 29.

NY State Excelsior Pass

The statewide Excelsior Pass allows residents to sign up for digital proof of their vaccine status and gives a scannable QR code to use where applicable. The QR code and Pass can be saved digitally on smartphones with the Excelsior Pass Wallet app, which is free from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

“More and more, there’s going to be a reality where, if you’re vaccinated, a world of opportunity opens up to you. If you’re not vaccinated, there’s going to be more and more things you can’t do,” de Blasio said during his virtual press briefing, when he announced that the city will only hire vaccinated workers and advised all New Yorkers to wear masks in indoor, public settings.

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