Hidden camera: Just four of 15 NYC restaurants tested actually enforced the city's vaccine passport rule

Not a total policy failure. If you know you will be denied entry to a restaurant or theater without proof of vaccination, that’s a reason to get your shots.

But if you know you might be denied entry to a restaurant or theater without proof of vaccination, that’s still a reason (if a weaker one) to get your shots.

“Inside Edition” did a solid for the de Blasio administration by airing the clip below since it’s destined to spook some proprietors who’ll fear they might be next to end up on television and in hot water with the city for not following the rules. That should boost enforcement. (Unless the publicity from the segment attracts a wave of unvaccinated customers looking for a place to eat that won’t hassle them, in which case maybe it pays to break the rules.) But there are also incentives against enforcement. For instance, what if a customer happens to be a violent nut who takes their rage about the vaccine rules out on you?

Is NYC’s vaccine passport regime even working to increase vaccinations, you may wonder? The answer is: Probably. The policy took effect on August 17 but full enforcement wasn’t required until Monday of this week, September 13. By the numbers:

On August 17 the city was averaging 22,655 doses daily. That rose to 27,358 by August 31. Vaccinations dipped over Labor Day weekend but they were back to 27,094 as of Monday’s passport launch. (This week’s data is incomplete at the moment so the final numbers may be higher.) Last Friday, the final weekday before the new rules would be fully enforced, the city saw the highest number of doses administered on a single day since mid-June. No one can say for sure that that’s due to New Yorkers having their arms twisted by the new policy rather than, say, fear of the Delta variant, particularly since daily doses began rising even before the vaccine passport rules were announced. But the timing is suggestive. We’ll see how durable the surge is in NYC in the weeks to come.

Speaking of twisting arms, interesting news from corporate America today:

Raytheon Technologies Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. will require all U.S. workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19, while Southwest Airlines Co. is rolling out a new carrot-and-stick approach, as pressure grows across corporate America to ensure employees are protected…

The latest announcements come about a week after Biden said the Department of Labor would develop a workplace safety rule requiring that companies with at least 100 employees either require vaccination or offer weekly testing. Biden also ordered all executive branch workers and federal contractors to be vaccinated, putting Raytheon and other defense giants such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. at the center of the government’s tougher stance on vaccinations.

Apparently the CEO of Walgreens briefed Biden on the company’s plan personally on Wednesday. This is why I think it doesn’t matter much whether Biden’s federal employer vaccine mandate is ultimately upheld in court or thrown out. It’s chiefly a political device to give cover to big companies to impose the mandates they’ve wanted to impose all along but were too anxious to order until they had political cover. Now that Biden’s temporarily forced them to get all of their workers vaccinated (or tested weekly), they can implement mandates and blame him for it. By the time SCOTUS gets around to nuking the federal rule months from now, most employees will already have been vaxxed in the interim and Walgreens can simply decide to keep their policy in place irrespective of the court’s decision. For many businesses, the new federal mandate is nothing more or less than a fig leaf for them to do what they want to do. It’ll serve that purpose regardless of its fate legally.

Here’s “Inside Edition” inadvertently providing free advertising for a few restaurants to unvaccinated New Yorkers.