BY EVERYNIGHT CHARLEY CRESPO | New York City inspectors have issued warnings and fines to local businesses since the Sept. 13 implementation of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Key to NYC vaccination mandate.
The mayor announced the Key to NYC executive order in August. The measure requires owners and operators at all indoor dining, entertainment and fitness facilities to require customers and employees to present proof of COVID vaccination for entry. Thirteen municipal agencies have been authorized to send staffers to do the inspections.
According to the Mayor’s Office, more than 21,000 inspections have been done. The agents issued more than 5,700 warnings and 10 fines to indoor facility owners and operators. The Mayor’s Office declined to name the businesses that got violations, according to a New York Daily News report on Oct. 3. The businesses are permitted to appeal the fines.
The violations included a failure to present a published COVID-19 safety policy. Indoor establishments are required to develop a written implementation plan that is available for inspection. This plan should include how staff will check vaccination status of staff and customers before or immediately after they enter the business.
“The early results of the Key to NYC inspections are hugely encouraging, and they confirm what we’ve known all along: Businesses are ready to keep New Yorkers safe and end this pandemic,” Mitch Schwartz, a de Blasio spokesperson, said.
While the Key to NYC executive order kicked off in August, it was purposely was not enforced until Sept. 13. The interim period gave business owners time to prepare their written policies and get employees up to speed on checking customers for proof of vaccination.
Patrons must show a vaccine card, a copy of a vaccine record or one of two official apps to be allowed entry for indoor service at dining, entertainment and fitness facilities.
Vaccinations are not required for outdoor establishments. Venues with both indoor and outdoor service must relegate employees and customers without proof of vaccination to the outdoor areas only: They are allowed inside, wearing a mask, for brief periods, like using the bathroom or getting a takeout meal.
Inspectors can issue a warning for the first offense. The second time a business is caught violating the mandate, agents will issue a $1,000 fine. A third infraction carries a penalty of $2,000. Further violations are $5,000 each.
A group of local business owners is trying to sue in court to contest the executive order. These operators reportedly called the mayor’s mandate an “extortion.”
For more of Everynight Charley Crespo’s coverage of the city’s live music scene, check out his blog, The Manhattan Beat.