NEW YORK — Employees and patrons of indoor dining, gyms and entertainment venues who are age 12 or older will have to show proof of two COVID-19 vaccine doses starting on Dec. 27, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.
In addition, children ages 5 to 11 will be required to show proof of one vaccine dose to be allowed into indoor dining locations, gyms and entertainment venues, starting on Dec. 14.
This expansion of the "Key to NYC" mandate, which was launched on Aug. 16 and began being enforced on Sept. 13, comes as the city deals with the threat of the omicron variant.
“The idea is everyone at that point who has gotten their first dose — you've gotten your first dose by now, you're going to be able to get your second dose by then,” de Blasio said at this press briefing Monday.
He went on to say: “We’ve got to encourage people to get that second dose because that's what provides that extra protection.”
The mayor also announced an expansion of the vaccine mandate for “high-risk extracurricular activities” like bands, sports, orchestra and dance. All children ages 5 years old and up participating in these activities will be required to show proof of vaccination, starting Dec. 14. It was previously required for children ages 12 and up.
There are about 127,000 kids vaccinated in the 5 to 11 age range who have been vaccinated so far, which is slightly more than 19%, according to the mayor.
"That's good and it's better than the national rate, but it's not enough, obviously," de Blasio said. "We need to see a lot more. We need to see kids getting vaccinated in that age group."
Frank Popp, who said both of his kids got two shots each, backs the mandate.
"It’s a common sense policy," Popp said.
"It makes you a lot more confident, especially when there are other kids around at kids' events, birthday parties, anything like going to the movie theater — certainly makes you more comfortable," he added.
The policy is popular in a highly vaccinated part of the Upper West Side, ZIP code 10023, where 92% of residents of all ages, including Mona Morrison’s children, have gotten at least one shot.
"They go to the movies, they go to play sports, they have a lot of school stuff indoors, so they are vaccinated," Morrison said.
"I think it’s everyone’s choice, but it’s good that restaurants and everybody is checking the cards," Morrison added. "So it would be great to feel safer, with the new variant."
But the support is not universal.
"I’m not really in the camp of rushing my kids to get a vaccine right now," Mark Lan said.
Lan, who has a 6-year-old daughter, said the family moved to Manhattan from Long Island for cultural events and entertainment programs that she won’t be able to enjoy under the mandate.
"The reason why I came was because the programs that are offered around here are much better," Lan said. "There’s a lot of different things I want to expose my kids to, but if those things are going to be restricted because of the vaccine, that I feel like it will hinder her growth, like the way that we wanted her to be exposed. But either way, I consider her health first."
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