How venues and restaurants across NYC are enforcing the vax pass

Since Aug. 16, indoor venues have been required to check customers’ vaccination statuses as mandated by the new city-wide policy referred to as The Key to NYC. Here’s how you can show your proof of vaccination.

How venues and restaurants across NYC are enforcing the vax pass

By Sydney Barragan, UTA Deputy Editor

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination has been required for a variety of indoor activities across New York City as of Aug. 16. Full enforcement of the new mandate has been in place since Sept. 13. 

Referred to as the Key to NYC, the new policy requires indoor venues and restaurants to ask for proof of vaccination from everyone over the age of 12 prior to entry. So what forms of proof are accepted?

There are several ways to show your proof of vaccination. One way is by showing a physical vaccination card. A government-issued ID will also be required to validate proof of vaccination. 

There is also the Excelsior Pass, a method to show proof of vaccination created by New York State. It is accessible on the state’s website and can also provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. 

Lastly, there is the NYC COVID safe app which can be downloaded through the App Store for iOS users or the Google Play Store for Android users. Here, you can upload your vaccination record and photo ID. 

However, it is important to note that forging, tampering with or altering information on a vaccine card is punishable by law according to a statement made by the FBI.

The Grey Dog, a homestyle cafe located on University Place and East 12th Street, is a popular spot frequented by NYU students. As mandated, the cafe checks vaccination statuses before seating guests indoors. However, staff at The Grey Dog reported that there have been some issues with customers regarding this new policy. 

“The biggest pushback we had, to be honest, was when the NYU parents were here,” said the general manager Sierra Webb.

She attributed it to the fact that many NYU parents are from out-of-state where vaccination is not mandatory to enter restaurants and other venues. 

“When we look at their vaccination pass, we’ll also look for their names just to verify,” Webb said. 

If vaccination is not shown or cannot be verified, the only option is to be seated outside. 

Indoor dining spaces are not the only areas subject to the city-wide policy. Regal Cinemas reopened spring 2021 after six months of empty seats, finally allowing people to see movies in the theater again — but only if you have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“If you have one dose, you still have to wear a mask,” Laura, an employee at the Union Square Regal Cinema, said. “If you’re fully vaccinated, the mask policy is optional.”

She believes that this mandate has had a slight influence on business but expects that people will become accustomed to it. 

Other indoor activities also require proof of vaccination, such as gyms and fitness centers. At Crunch Fitness, masks are not required but vaccination is mandatory. 

Many other restaurants and food establishments have posted signs in their windows to inform customers about the new vaccination mandate. However, not all are actually verifying vaccination statuses.

Sweetgreen, located near The Grey Dog on University Place, has a sign stating that all guests must be vaccinated to enter the establishment. Despite what the sign says, customers can enter and purchase a meal without showing their vaccination pass. 

There is a statement on the New York state website, which explains that “fast food or quick service with indoor dining” must check for proof of vaccination. This does not apply to Sweetgreen since the eatery does not provide indoor seating at this time.

Coffee shops and bakeries like MadMan Espresso on University Place and Starbucks are also subject to the new policy, though customers can be served without showing vaccination status. 

Only those under the age of 12 will be excluded from the mandate, and as a result, will not be refused entry to these venues. Further decisions regarding religious or medical exemption have not yet been made known to the public. 

Contact Sydney Barragan at [email protected]