Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that the city would “delineate to New Yorkers the best way to use masks” on Monday, but held firm to the idea that Covid vaccinations are the best way to fight the pandemic.
“The main event is vaccination,” Mr. de Blasio said on CNN. “Masks can be helpful,” he added, “but they don’t change the basic reality. Vaccination does.”
After new federal guidance on Tuesday advised that fully vaccinated people in areas with high virus transmission should continue to wear masks in public indoor spaces, Mr. de Blasio has faced calls to do more. All of New York City currently exceeds the threshold for virus transmission outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Around the country, other states and municipalities have been quick to update their own mask rules, while others have expressed outrage. Washington, D.C., will impose an indoor mask mandate this weekend and Los Angeles County put one in place even before the federal guidance changed.
Mr. de Blasio announced on Monday that more than 300,000 city workers would have to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, and he has called on private employers to implement vaccine mandates. The mayor also announced $100 payments for those who get vaccinated at a city-run site.
New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, said on Wednesday that tens of thousands of state employees would be required to be vaccinated or face weekly testing. Health care workers at state run hospitals who are “patient-facing” will be required to be vaccinated and will not have the option of testing. And on Thursday, President Biden announced new requirements for federal workers to be vaccinated or face testing, and urged local and state governments to offer $100 to anyone willing to get a shot voluntarily.
Hospitals are not being overrun as they were in the city at the height at the surge. Most of those being hospitalized are mostly the unvaccinated.
Mr. de Blasio also urged city residents to take stock of the growing number of places requiring vaccinations. He praised the decision by Danny Meyer, the chief executive of Union Square Hospitality Group, which manages more than a dozen restaurants in New York and Washington, to require all employees to be fully vaccinated and for customers to show proof of vaccination. Broadway’s theater owners and operators announced on Friday that they would require theatergoers to be vaccinated and to wear a mask.
“What’s going to happen, bluntly, is that folks who are vaccinated are going to be able to experience all the things that they love in the life of this city and this country,” Mr. de Blasio said. “And folks who are not vaccinated are going to find that too many things that they want to do they can’t do unless they are vaccinated.”
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