Many New York City customers found themselves turned away from restaurants as the Covid-19 vaccine passport came into effect on Tuesday night, which sparked a backlash from restaurant owners who slammed the move as “segregation.”
On Tuesday, August 17th, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial “Key to NYC” scheme was officially implemented, marking the US’s strictest mandate to date, separating the vaccinated and unvaccinated in day-to-day life.
Restaurant staff must now be the public enforcers of the mayor’s new mandate.
Under the measures, anyone aged 12 and older must now provide proof of vaccination to dine indoors in New York City’s restaurants. Those who fail to show a valid vaccine passport will be made to dine outdoors.
De Blasio has warned that restaurants have until September 13th to get behind the rules, after which time they will be faced with city inspections and risk expensive fines if they fail to comply. First-offense fines will be $1,000 and second-offense fines will be $2,000.
The “Key to NYC” also applies to other areas of public life including gyms, fitness centers, indoor pools, cinemas, music and concert venues, museums, indoor stadiums and arenas, convention centers, bowling alleys and indoor play areas.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the mandate will allow New Yorkers to return to normal life and encourage more people to get vaccinated, however, it is only restricting citizens and the hospitality industry even more.
At the start of the pandemic, the hospitality industry was hit with tough restrictions as indoor dining was forced to shut for almost all of 2020 – even while other sectors and industries were allowed to reopen.
Since March 2020, at least 1,000 restaurants have permanently shut down as a result of the restrictions introduced as a result of the pandemic.
Whilst many restaurants are complying with the new rules, some are taking matters into their own hands and have teamed up to sue Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city of New York for introducing the tyrannical measures.
The Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue, Max’s Esca, DeLuca’s Italian Restaurant and Pasticceria Rocco are seeking an injunction against de Blasio’s executive order. Additionally, two fitness venues, Evolve-33 and Staten Island Judo Jujitsu are also listed as plaintiffs in the complaint. All of the plaintiffs, excluding Pasticceria Rocco, are located on Staten Island. The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in the New York Supreme Court.
Nick Paolucci, press secretary for New York City’s law department, said the city is reviewing the complaint.
Other restaurant owners have expressed concerns about some of their staff threatening to quit if they’re required to be vaccinated. Art Depole, who co-owns a Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes franchise with his brother Nick in midtown Manhattan, said that he’s getting pushback from a handful of his employees.
The court papers state that “the decision to get the vaccine should ultimately lie with the individual and his doctor, who knows that persons’ complete medical history rather than a politician.”
The lawsuit is seeking for a court to block the vaccine mandate by issuing a preliminary injunction.
At a press conference on Wednesday, de Blasio said he and the city Law Department have “tremendous confidence that we’re in a very good legal position.”
He said that the decision was made with guidance from health officials, citing the move as being entirely focused on public health and safety.
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