New York City plans to vaccinate visitors and employees of museums and other cultural institutions, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.
“Defeating the Delta variant is the best way to support cultural institutions because it brings us all back,” said Mr de Blasio at a press conference at which he outlined the new requirements. He said that “we believe that if we take these aggressive measures it will encourage many people – viewers and staff alike – to get vaccinated.”
The new museum vaccination mandate came as the city expanded its Key to NYC program, which requires vaccination in a range of settings to include “bars, gyms, movie and stage theaters, museums and other indoor venues”. The policy goes into effect Tuesday, but enforcement doesn’t start until September 13th to educate the public and give the venues time to adjust.
Children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated must be accompanied by a vaccinated person and are asked to wear masks, city officials said.
“We say you get at least the first vaccination – of course the goal is that everyone is fully vaccinated – but if you get at least the first vaccination you can work or eat indoors, enjoy indoor fitness, indoor entertainment and concerts, Cinemas, ”said the mayor as he outlined the requirements. The city plans to run a $ 10 million media campaign to educate the public about the new requirements, city officials said.
The 33 museums and art groups that operate in the city’s own buildings or on city-owned land, known as members of the cultural institute group, had held talks with the city’s cultural department over the past few weeks.
There was broad consensus among these arts organizations – and others not owned by the city – in favor of a vaccination mandate.
“Everyone wants their audience and employees to be safe,” said Lucy Sexton, executive director of New Yorkers for Culture & Arts, an advocacy group. Ms. Sexton, along with Taryn Sacramone, executive director of the Queens Theater and Sade Lythcott, executive director of the National Black Theater, is leading a daily Zoom call with 200+ cultural professionals to pool support and intelligence amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Evidence of vaccination may include a photo or paper copy of an official vaccination card, the state’s Excelsior Pass, New York City vaccination apps, or an official vaccination card for approved vaccines.
“The city’s recovery depends on a strong return of culture,” said Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, chairman of the city council committee responsible for cultural affairs. “Our audience needs to feel safe, and that requires vaccination regulations. As variants emerge, people will want to know that the person sitting next to them in the theater or standing next to them at the Met is also vaccinated. This makes sense for everyone – for patrons, artists and employees. “
Aug 16, 2021, 1:10 p.m. ET
The announcement was delayed by several sticking points, namely whether vaccinations would be required for both employees and visitors, some feared they could raise sensitive labor law issues, despite the Equal Opportunities Commission saying that companies are required to have vaccines to get to work come.
And there were concerns about whether the mandate would disproportionately affect the People of Color at a moment when cultural institutions have made concerted efforts to diversify their audiences and provide greater access. Recent city data showed that only 28 percent of black New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 44 were fully vaccinated.
Mr de Blasio said he would fuel the city’s efforts to get cultural institutions to diversify their audiences, boards of directors and staff, but the current crisis calls for a vaccine mandate to be put in place. “This moment with the Delta variant is a very, very challenging moment, but also a temporary reality,” he said.
Cultural institutions were also concerned about lost income and additional costs for enforcing the new regulations, as they are already working with reduced working hours and reduced capacities. “We were the first to close and we were the last to reopen,” said Ms. Sexton. “The whole field has not experienced the level of relief that others have.”
When asked about this economic argument, Mr de Blasio said that the city had already “increased cultural funding in a number of ways”.
“We don’t expect to add any additional resources,” he added. “We think this is something that manageable people can do.”
Gonzalo Casals, who became New York City’s cultural commissioner last year, declined to comment through a spokesman.
Understand the state of vaccination and masking requirements in the United States
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in public places indoors in areas with outbreaks, reversing the guidelines offered in May. See where the CDC guidelines would apply and where states have implemented their own mask guidelines. The battle over masks is controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- Vaccination regulations. . . and B.Factories. Private companies are increasingly demanding coronavirus vaccines for employees with different approaches. Such mandates are legally permissible and have been confirmed in legal challenges.
- College and Universities. More than 400 colleges and universities require a vaccination against Covid-19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- schools. On August 11, California announced that teachers and staff at both public and private schools would have to get vaccinated or have regular tests, the first state in the nation to do so. A survey published in August found that many American parents of school-age children are against mandatory vaccines for students but are more likely to support masking requirements for students, teachers and staff who are not vaccinated.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and large health systems require their employees to have a Covid-19 vaccine, due to rising case numbers due to the Delta variant and persistently low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their workforce.
- new York. On August 3, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that workers and customers would be required to provide proof of vaccination when dining indoors, gyms, performances, and other indoor situations. City hospital staff must also be vaccinated or have weekly tests. Similar rules apply to employees in New York State.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced that it would make coronavirus vaccinations compulsory for the country’s 1.3 million active soldiers “by mid-September at the latest. President Biden announced that all civil federal employees would need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular tests, social distancing, mask requirements and travel restrictions.
Leonard Jacobs, the interim managing director of the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning in Queens, said in an email interview that questions remain, “How we should enforce this policy and whether we need resources to do so. ”
“We are confident that the mayor will provide guidance that will enable us to operate safely,” he added, “and continue our mission in the Southeast Queens community.”
Ken Weine, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said in a statement that the museum “wholeheartedly” supports the new policy. “Although our attendance numbers have increased every month – and now more than half are from outside New York City – the mayor is right that the only way to make further progress is to increase vaccination rates,” said Wein.
Earlier this month, Mr de Blasio announced that indoor concerts – as well as gyms and restaurants – require vaccinations.
The mayor said it was vital for New York City to bring its cultural sector back safely.
“We are defined by our art and culture in this city,” said the mayor, “so the return of art and culture meant a lot to New Yorkers and gave hope to many people.”
“All of these pieces lead us on,” he said, “until the day when we don’t need these rules and our cultural institutions can open up to 110 percent.”