Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, announced the carveout at CitiField ahead of the New York Mets’ opening day.
Adams’s predecessor, Bill de Blasio, imposed a raft of mandates in 2021, including a private business vaccine mandate that contained an exemption for athletes and performers who were visiting the city but not those who played for home teams.
Adams said he wanted to change the requirement after taking office in Jan. 1 but was told by health advisers to wait until COVID-19 cases were at a lower level. Cases are now at levels not seen since July 2021.
New York “is a low-risk environment” right now “so today we take another step in the city’s economic recovery,” Adams said.
“This is about putting New York City-based performers on a level playing field,” he added.
The mayor did not cite any studies or real-world data to support the alteration. He has said mandates prevent the city from shutting down again, but the vaccines provide little protection against infection following the emergence of the Omicron virus variant.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving had been unable to play at home games during this season because of the mandate as he declined to get a COVID-19 vaccine. He’ll be able to play in the next home game, on March 27 against the Charlotte Hornets.
Some Mets and New York Yankees players were also poised to be unable to play if the mandate had not been changed by April 7, Major League Baseball’s opening day.
Adams said the move affected “a small number of people” including “struggling singers.”
During the briefing, Randy Levine, the president of the Yankees, praised Adams for rolling back the mandate, calling it a “courageous decision.” Chloe Smith, event manger for King’s Theater, said the expansion of the exemptions would benefit the theater and its employees.
Under the altered rules, all workers not deemed performers or athletes must continue to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to employers to keep their jobs. A separate rule that requires city workers to prove they’ve been vaccinated also remains in effect.
“It definitely doesn’t make sense to me at all,” Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association and chair of the Municipal Labor Committee, two local unions, told The Epoch Times.
Nespoli is calling on Adams and his administration to work to hire back all workers who lost their jobs because of the mandates.
“I have no problem as far as these people playing ball, but you can’t forget about the city workers, the average Joe that goes to work every single day, that gets on the train or drives into the city to do their job that they were doing for, like, 15 years, 11 years, 12 years, and then terminated because of the shot,” Nespoli said.
New York has fired about 1,400 workers due to their refusal to get a vaccine, including about 125 workers from the sanitation union.
Adams said his message to fired workers was that “we had an urgent, emergency pandemic” and praised de Blasio for his mandates. He said the city would not rehire the terminated workers at this time.
From The Epoch Times