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NYC Officially Eliminates Vaccine Mandate for Indoor Dining

Starting March 7, restaurants are no longer required to check customers for proof of vaccination — although some still plan to keep the safety measure in place

A sign in a restaurant window informs customers that they will need to show proof that they are vaccinated for COVID-19.
The city’s vaccine mandate is no more.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams is officially rolling back the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses including restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters starting on Monday, March 7. After six months of having to ensure all indoor diners have received the vaccine, restaurants will no longer be required to check customers’ vaccination status.

“Folks can come in and enjoy the restaurants, enjoy the businesses, and be a part of this great city without having to show proof of vaccination,” Adams said at a Friday press conference. “That means that our restaurants, businesses, [and] concert venues will no longer need to require patrons to provide this proof.”

Similar to when the mask regulations for indoor dining were loosened last May, the onus is now on the businesses themselves to decide whether or not to keep checking for proof of vaccination as an extra safety precaution. Restaurant owners can still require proof of vaccination if they’d like, according to Adams, but the “overall restriction has been removed.”

Many restaurateurs are split on whether or not they’ll keep enforcing the mandate. Seafood hotspot Dame in Greenwich Village plans to keep checking vaccination status as a safety measure for its staff, co-owner Ed Szymanski told Grub Street. Other owners, like Omar Canales of Bronx Honduran restaurant Seis Vecinos, told the publication that eliminating the mandate is a positive step forward and is a measure of relief to staff who no longer have to deal with tense confrontations over customers’ vaccination status.

NYC was one of the first major cities in the U.S. to put a vaccine mandate in place when former mayor Bill de Blasio put the requirement in place last August, in an effort to boost vaccination rates and make indoor dining safer for the public. Other cities including Boston, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia initially followed suit, but have since already rolled back their own vaccine mandates for indoor dining. Restaurateurs in those areas have had to make similar decisions about whether or not to keep the requirement in place on their own.

The news of the vaccine mandate rollback is not unexpected, as Adams said earlier this week that the the city was preparing to eliminate its vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters as long as COVID-19 case counts remained low. As of March 4, the COVID-19 test positivity rate on a seven-day average in NYC is 1.65 percent, according to city data, and 87 percent of adult residents have been fully vaccinated.