Visitors and workers at New York City’s cultural institutions, including museums and galleries, will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination as part of a vaccine mandate for public indoor settings.
Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his new “Key to NYC Pass” plan, which will require proof of at least one vaccine dose before entering indoor dining, gyms, and performance venues; in a press conference this morning, he confirmed the city’s cultural organizations are also included. The mandate goes into effect today, but will not be enforced with penalties until the week of September 13. Failure to comply with the new policy will result in a $1,000 fine; with each offense, the fee will increase.
A recent surge of cases and hospitalizations in the city — and nationwide — has been driven primarily by the Delta variant of the virus, which is thought to be more contagious than previous strains. Yesterday, New York City recorded 1,817 new cases of the virus. Despite this increase, slightly over a quarter of adults city-wide have not received a single shot of the vaccine.
Masks are encouraged, but not enforced, under the new plan; most museums across the city still require face coverings. Children younger than 12 years old, for whom the vaccine has not yet been approved, will have to be accompanied by a vaccinated person.
“We wholly support all efforts to increase vaccination rates — and we are working through how to operationalize the policy,” Kenneth Weine, Vice President of External Affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, told Hyperallergic. “The Met has a been masked environment for almost a year. Visitor and staff safety is our top priority, and we look forward to implementing this new mandate.”
In today’s conference, the mayor addressed public concerns that the new policy could exclude visitors and workers from participating in the city’s cultural sector — particularly Black, Latinx, and other POC individuals whose vaccine hesitancy is rooted in mistrust of the medical system.
“We’ve been trying to encourage our cultural institutions to diversify their audiences, boards, and staff, but this moment with the Delta variant is a temporary reality,” he said. “In terms of communities of color, this will encourage a lot of people, audience members and staff alike, to get vaccinated. We found a lot of folks are open to vaccination, but just need that extra incentive or reminder or convenience.”
The mayor added that support and training for enforcing the mandate will be provided to institutions that need it.
Acceptable proof of vaccination includes NYC’s COVID Safe App, the New York State Excelsior App, or official records. Those who were vaccinated outside of the US can show a photo or hard copy of records of immunization with the AstraZeneca/SK Bioscience, Serum Institute of India/COVISHIELD and Vaxzevria, Sinopharm, or Sinovac vaccines, a representative for the mayor’s office told Hyperallergic.