Starting in September, New York City will require that people to prove they received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to eat indoors, visit gyms and go to the theater. The new program is called “Key to NYC Pass”, but it does not involve, as the name suggests, the release of a new application or a new vaccine passport. Instead, people can show a paper vaccination card from the CDC or an existing vaccination passport application to prove their status.

The initiative marks the first time that a major American city has issued a vaccine warrant like this, and it immediately baffled the public.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a press conference on Tuesday that the Key to NYC Pass – which, again, is a program, not an application or a vaccine passport – is intended to increase. vaccination rates throughout the city. The announcement comes just one day after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged private companies to require Covid-19 vaccination to enter bars and restaurants. At the moment, approximately 30 percent of adults in New York have still not been vaccinated. It’s roughly on par with the rest of the United States.

Not all the details of the new program are clear. Mayor de Blasio says the program will start on August 16 and more information on the plan will be available in the coming weeks. The system is launched on a voluntary basis from August 16, and the city will begin enforcing the new requirements on September 13, after Labor Day, when city officials expect indoor activities to become more popular. The town hall told Recode that it plans to educate affected industries on the application of the new rules, but did not provide more details.

“The goal here is to convince everyone that now is the time. We will stop the delta variant, ”de Blasio told reporters. “It means getting vaccinated now. “

De Blasio explained that in addition to showing a CDC card, people can use two government-supported apps to prove their status: the New York State Excelsior pass, which connects to the Vaccine Registry of state and provides a QR code for the sites to be scanned. in order to verify the status of a person; and the new NYC Covid Safe app, which is basically just a handy place to store photos of CDC vaccine cards, Covid-19 test results, and photo ID. (Some have critical the NYC Covid Safe app for the lack of safety features as it does not currently verify the validity of vaccine credentials.)

Still, the announcement left many to believe that the Key to NYC pass program would involve the launch of another app. Mixed messaging is not that surprising. Since the start of the Covid-19 vaccinations, there has been persistent confusion over how people can confirm that they have received a vaccine, especially as more and more companies and businesses have issued their own vaccine mandates. At the same time, private companies have launched a multitude of competing applications.

The city’s explanation of the new vaccine requirements even left Recode’s Peter Kafka puzzled:

New York City’s new agenda also comes as the White House dodges a federal vaccine mandate or a vaccine passport system. Instead, the Biden administration has supported private companies and local governments to move forward with their own vaccine requirements. Tuesday, just days after encouraging private companies to take “innovative measures” to promote vaccinationpress secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that a federal vaccination mandate is still not on the table. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, however, suggested last week that the European health passes could be a “the path to follow“Of the pandemic.

Indeed, the new vaccination mandate for certain indoor activities in New York is sure to revive the wider debate on the use of vaccine passports, which have remained controversial in the United States. New York, which launched the first state-backed vaccine passport application with help from IBM in March, has been optimistic about the technology. But other states have banned the use of vaccine passports, calling them a government overrun and a violation of people’s privacy. Norwegian Cruise Line currently pursues The Florida Surgeon General for such a ban.

Passport vaccination programs have been successful in other countries, and these mandates have been shown to increase vaccination rates. In France, for example, a new health card system that requires proof of vaccination for indoor meals, long-distance trains and shopping centers inspired protests – but also leads to save registrations for vaccination appointments. Israel and Italy have also implemented similar vaccine passport systems to boost vaccine uptake and reduce the impact of the delta variant.

Some private companies have taken the initiative to check the vaccine status of clients and even to issue their own vaccination warrants. Last month, a San Francisco alliance that represents around 500 bars announcement that its members would require proof of vaccination or a negative test before offering room service. Fitness chain Equinox, which also operates SoulCycle, said all of its customers and employees may need to show proof of vaccination, A handwriting font which will be implemented in its New York gyms from September.

A growing number of large companies have also announced vaccination warrants for their employees. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft said they will require workers to prove they have been vaccinated. Disney requires all salaried and non-unionized employees to to get vaccinated in the next two months. Walmart, the largest employer in the United States, announced late last month that his office workers will need to prove that they have received a vaccine against Covid-19. And Tyson Foods, the country’s second-largest meat processor, demands that all of its workers get vaccinated.

New York City’s new plan comes amid fears that there is a fourth wave of Covid-19 caused by the delta variant and that people are moving their activities indoors as the weather cools. If a major city shows vaccination warrants helping to stop the spread, there is hope other local governments will take note. At the very least, New York City is showing its residents and visitors that getting vaccinated can open doors.

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