New York City mandates vaccines for museum visitors and staff

New York City plans to require visitors and staff at museums and other cultural institutions to be vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said...

New York City plans to require visitors and staff at museums and other cultural institutions to be vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.

“Defeating the Delta variant is the best way to support cultural institutions, because it brings us all back,” Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference in which he described the new requirements. He said that “we believe that if we take these aggressive measures, it will encourage a lot of people – members of the public and staff – to get vaccinated.”

The new vaccine mandate for museums came as the city expanded its “The Key to New York” program, which requires vaccinations in a number of settings, to include “bars, sports halls, cinemas and theaters, museums and other indoor venues”. The policy goes into effect on Tuesday, but the app won’t start until September 13 to educate the public and give sites time to adjust.

Children under 12, who are not eligible to be vaccinated, will need to be accompanied by a vaccinated person and will be encouraged to wear masks, city officials said.

“We say get at least the first vaccination – of course the goal is to get everyone vaccinated completely – but at least get the first vaccination and you can work out or enjoy indoor meals, indoor fitness, entertainment. in theaters, concerts, cinemas, “the mayor said, describing the requirements. The city plans to conduct a $ 10 million media campaign to inform the public of the new requirements, according to city officials.

The 34 museums and arts groups operating in city-owned buildings or on city-owned land – known as members of the Cultural Institutions group – and other arts organizations had been under discussion in recent weeks. with the city’s cultural affairs department.

There was a broad consensus among these arts organizations – as well as others outside the city – in favor of a vaccination mandate.

“Everyone wants their public and their employees to be safe,” said Lucy Sexton, Executive Director of New Yorkers for culture and the arts, an advocacy group. Ms Sexton – with Taryn Sacramone, Executive Director of the Queens Theater and Sade Lythcott, General Manager of the National Black Theater – directs a daily Zoom call with over 200 artistic leaders to pool support and information amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Proof of vaccination can include a photo or hard copy of an official vaccination card, the state Excelsior Pass, New York City vaccination apps, or an official vaccination record for licensed vaccines.

“The recovery of the city depends on the return of culture in full force,” said Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, the chairman of the city council committee that oversees cultural affairs. “Our audiences need to feel safe and immunization warrants are needed for this to happen. With the increase in variations, people will want to know that the person sitting next to them at the theater or standing next to them at the Met is also vaccinated. It’s the smart thing to do for everyone – the patrons, the artists, and the staff. “

The announcement was delayed by several sticking points over whether vaccinations would be required of staff members as well as visitors, which some believe could raise thorny labor law issues, although the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities stated that companies can impose vaccines as a condition for coming to work.

And there were concerns over whether the mandate would disproportionately affect people of color at a time when cultural institutions have made a concerted effort to diversify their audiences and invite greater access. Recent city data has shown that only 28% of black New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 44 were fully vaccinated.

Mr de Blasio said he would continue the city’s efforts to get cultural institutions to diversify their audiences, boards and staff, but the current crisis called for a mandate to be put in place. vaccination. “This moment with the Delta variant is a very, very difficult moment, but it is also a temporary reality,” he said.

Cultural institutions were also concerned about the loss of revenue and the additional costs of enforcing the new regulations, given that they are already operating at reduced hours and capacity. “We were the first to close and we were the last to reopen,” Ms. Sexton said. “The whole field has not received the measure of relief that the others have. “

Asked about this economic argument, de Blasio said the city had already “increased cultural funding in various ways”.

“We do not plan to provide additional resources,” he added. “We think it’s something manageable that people can do. “

Gonzalo Casals, who last year become The New York City Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, through a spokesperson, declined to comment.

Leonard Jacobs, acting executive director of the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning in Queens, said in an email interview that questions remained “on how we should apply this policy and whether we will need to resources to do so. “

“We are confident that the mayor will provide guidance that will allow us to operate safely,” he added, “and to continue our mission in the community of South East Queens.”

Ken Weine, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said in a statement that the museum was “fully in favor” of the new policy. “While our number of visitors has increased each month – and now more than half are from outside New York City – the mayor is absolutely correct that the only path to continued progress is increased. vaccination rate, ”Weine said.

Earlier this month, M. de Blasio announcement that vaccinations would be mandatory for indoor concerts – as well as for gyms and restaurants – thus becoming the first US city to issue such a warrant.

The mayor said it was vital that New York City could bring back its cultural sector.

“We are defined by our arts and culture in this city,” said the mayor, “so the return of arts and culture has meant a lot to New Yorkers and has given hope to many people. “

“All these pieces keep us going,” he said, “until the day when we no longer need these rules and our cultural institutions can open to 110%.

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Newsrust - US Top News: New York City mandates vaccines for museum visitors and staff
New York City mandates vaccines for museum visitors and staff
Newsrust - US Top News
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