Mayor: Just 15 businesses fined over NYC vaccine mandate

The Detroit News

New York — New York City's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues is going so well that only 15 businesses have been fined for not enforcing the policy, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

De Blasio said the high rate of compliance with the vaccine mandate that was announced last summer and has been enforced since Sept. 13 shows that “the vast, vast, vast majority of restaurants and all the other businesses are saying, ‘Yes we’re going to work with this, we’re going to make it work for our employees, for our customers, keep everyone safe.’ Very few are standing apart.”

The mandate requires staff members at places where people gather inside to check for proof of vaccination.

In this Sept. 13, 2021 file photo. Maitre d' Susanne McDonald, center right, checks a guest's proof of vaccination at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan, in New York.

Jonnel Doris, the city’s commissioner for small business services, said the city has conducted more than 31,000 inspections since enforcement of the vaccination mandate started one month ago and has issued about 6,000 warnings. Most of the businesses that received warnings made the necessary changes, Doris said, "and that's how we ended up with just 15 or so actual violations.”

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a restaurant industry group, said in a statement, "As we continue to work with restaurants and bars to help them implement the vaccine requirement, it’s critical that the city continues to focus on outreach, education, and compliance first, and issues fines to small businesses only as a last resort.”

The 15 businesses that did not comply after being warned were each fined $1,000, City Hall spokesperson Mitch Schwartz said. They have the right to appeal the fines.