NYC vaccine mandate goes unenforced at local businesses

The city’s Key to NYC vaccine mandate came into effect Sept. 13, but NYU students and local businesses have expressed concerns about its implementation.


Jake Capriotti

A sign outside a restaurant near campus tells patrons that they must be vaccinated to be served. However, many NYU students have reported that local businesses are not complying with Mayor DeBlasio’s mandate. (Staff Photo by Jake Capriotti)

Gabriel Hawthorne, Staff Writer

Despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Key to NYC vaccine mandate for indoor activities having gone into full effect on Sept. 13, students have noticed that some local businesses are not complying with its requirements. 

The Key to NYC mandates that anyone 12 and older must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and other businesses. If they are not using one of the two mobile applications available for proof of vaccination in NYC — COVID Safe and Excelsior Pass –– customers can show employees their paper vaccination record, or a photograph or photocopy of it.

Many students, however, believe some businesses are not looking closely at their vaccination cards. Steinhardt sophomore Katya Arutyunyan said that she is rarely asked to show her vaccination card, but when she is, the process is inefficient. 

“Half the time they don’t ask for IDs,” Arutyunyan said. “They just ask for the vaccine card and only glance at it.”

Tisch senior Gabie Yacobi said that restaurants tend to check for vaccination cards more than other businesses, but that she still remains cautious due to the continued spread of COVID-19.

“You can still catch other variants, and you can still get sick,” Yacobi said. “I’ve had friends who have had that happen to them, and then everyone has to quarantine.” 

Although businesses are required to check for vaccinations, workers said that having to verify the information is overwhelming because of the absence of standardized procedures. Moe Beltre, a barista at La Colombe Coffee Roasters on Lafayette Street, said that having only one method of showing proof would make it easier for employees.

“I don’t know who is lying about their vaccine cards — I know people do that,” Beltre said. “We’re just doing what we have to do to not fight with anyone and get through a shift.”

Frank Zenón, the manager at The Bean on Broadway, said that he was given no guidance on how to serve a customer who is unvaccinated.

“They just say you’re not supposed to have them indoors,” Zenón said. “They don’t say to call anyone or kick them out. It creates tension with some people.”

Regal Cinemas near Union Square started enforcing the mandate before Sept. 13. Laura, a cashier at the theater who asked to be referred to by their first name only, said that the location lost customers who did not want to comply with the requirement, but pushback has decreased in recent days.

“Whoever was against it realized they can’t go anywhere,” Laura said. “Business is going smoothly now. People are definitely getting used to having to show their card, so it’s much easier than when we first did it.”

Although NYU and its surrounding neighborhoods have high vaccination rates, not all students are ready to let down their guard. Yacobi said she is worried about other variants and does not want to catch COVID-19.

“I think people have a false sense of security about it and are letting their guard down,” Yacobi said. “Just because you are vaccinated, it does not mean that the problem does not exist anymore.”

Contact Gabriel Hawthorne at [email protected]