NEW YORK: Amid surging cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant, New York City on Tuesday announced that it will require proof of vaccination for employees and customers for indoor dining, fitness and entertainment facilities in a first-of-its-kind approach in the US to fight the pandemic.
The new policy, announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, will be phased in over the coming weeks.
The City has been working with the business community and getting inputs.
The final details of the policy will be announced and implemented in the week of August 16.
Over the next couple of weeks, the city will work to get more feedback, finalise the policy and publish it before fully enforcing it from September 13.
The Mayor said the 'Key to NYC Pass' "will be a first in the nation approach" that will require vaccination for workers and customers in indoor dining, indoor fitness and entertainment facilities".
The 'Key to New York City' means that if people is vaccinated, they "can do all the amazing things that are available in the city".
New York City is a "miraculous place literally full of wonders and if you're vaccinated, all that is going to open up to you.
You'll have the key. You can open the door but if you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things.
That's the point we're trying to get across is that it is time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary to living a good and full and healthy life," de Blasio said.
With a view to encourage New Yorkers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the city recently announced that those getting vaccines at its sites will get USD 100 and so far over 11,000 New Yorkers have availed of this incentive.
The city has administered over 10 million total doses and five million New Yorkers have got at least one dose of the vaccine, de Blasio said.
"We are now at this point we dreamed of and now we are going to go farther," he said.
Under the 'Key to NYC Pass', employees and customers going to indoor dining, fitness and entertainment establishments will need to be vaccinated with at least one dose.
"This is crucial, because we know that this will encourage a lot more vaccination. We've seen it already, we've seen the impact of the mandate we put in place for city workers, already starting to move people to vaccination. We've obviously been seeing the positive impact of incentives as well," the Mayor said.
De Blasio emphasised that the goal of the new approach is "to convince everyone that this is the time. If we have to stop the Delta variant, the time is now. That means getting vaccinated right now".
"Climbing this ladder is giving us more and more ability to fight back the Delta variant. By fighting the Delta variant, we will continue our recovery and we will ultimately beat COVID.
"We know that this is what's going to turn the tide, and we also know that people will get a really clear message. If you want to participate in our society fully, you got to get vaccinated. It's time," he said.