NYC museums and art venues now require proof of COVID-19 vaccination

NYC museums and art venues now require proof of COVID-19 vaccination
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: marekr.

Visitors and staff of New York City museums and arts institutions such as galleries, exhibition halls and performing arts theaters will now be required to show proof that they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday. The requirement, which went into effect Aug. 17, is part of the city’s “Key to NYC Pass” program covering indoor dining, entertainment and fitness activities.

Other cultural venues outlined in full by the executive order include movie theaters, music or concert venues and botanical gardens.

The coming weeks will serve as an educational and transition period, with the city slated to “conduct an aggressive outreach and education campaign,” officials said in a statement. Inspections and enforcement will begin Sept. 13. Fines for not adhering to the the order start at $1,000 and tick upward for subsequent violations.

“We want people to enjoy the fullness of the city, but you got to be vaccinated to do it,” de Blasio said at a press conference Monday. The mandate, along with additional incentives, is part of a continued push to encourage residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to data from the Citywide Immunization Registry, nearly 63% of all NYC residents have received at least one dose, and 56.6% are fully vaccinated.

As of now, the mayor stated that the city does not anticipate providing additional resources to cultural institutions that must verify vaccination status, explaining that checking “is an additional step for sure, but it’s one we think they can navigate and we’re going to work with them on.”

“We are defined by our arts and culture in this city,” he said. “So, having arts and culture come back, having performance come back meant a huge amount to New Yorkers and gave people hope.”

He continued: “Defeating the Delta variant is the best way to support cultural institutions because it brings us all back. And we cannot defeat the Delta variant without a focus on vaccination.”

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When asked if the mandate could adversely affect people of color — The New York Times recently reported that only 28% of Black New Yorkers ages 18 to 44 years old are fully vaccinated — and cultural institutions pushing for diversity, the mayor emphasized his encouragement of increasing diversity amongst staff, audiences and board members and stated that the mandate could provide further incentive toward vaccination.

“I want to emphasize that we believe if we take these aggressive measures that … over time, we’re going to beat back the Delta variant,” de Blasio said.

Performing artists who do not reside in New York City and who are not regularly employed by the institution where they are performing are excluded from the mandate. Those who are stopping into an establishment for a “quick and limited” service do not have to show proof of vaccination.

Verification can take the form of a physical or photo of a CDC vaccination card, NYC’s COVID Safe app, the New York State Excelsior app and an official vaccine record. For those vaccinated outside of the United States, a photo or hard copy of an official vaccination record for vaccines AstraZeneca/SK Bioscience, Serum Institute of India/COVISHIELD and Vaxzevria, Sinopharm, or Sinovac is also accepted.

San Francisco and New Orleans have also recently announced vaccination mandates for indoor activities, and Los Angeles County will require attendees of large outdoor events to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status starting Friday.

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Top Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: marekr.