NYC Mayor to roll back vaccine mandate, but only on his own schedule

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

As the pandemic mandates and restrictions continue to fall away, life is slowly returning to something resembling “normal” in many places, including New York City. But the pace is still far too slow for at least some Gothamites. Big Apple Mayor Eric Adams has been “reviewing” all of the restrictions and says that he plans to let most of them elapse at some point, but thus far he has removed the immunity passport requirement for attending indoor events, but not for employees of either the city or the private sector. He claims that the private sector employee mandate will lapse at some point, but “won’t be rushed into it.” Many of his critics point to the case of Kyrie Irving, the unvaccinated basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets. He is now able to attend his team’s home games and watch from the stands, but not play in the games, which seems nonsensical. (Yahoo)

When New York City Mayor Eric Adams repealed the city’s indoor vaccination mandate requirements starting on March 7th, many people were confused. The private sector mandate requiring employees to be vaccinated is still left in place. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving can now attend home games at Barclays Arena, but he still can’t play under the current rules. This scenario played out last Sunday when Irving had to sit in the stands and watch his team beat the New York Knicks 110-107.

MLB Opening Day is on the horizon. Some New York Yankees and Mets players will also not be allowed to play home games because they’re not vaccinated. Sports fans, businesses, and NY athletes are calling for the Mayor to repeal the mandate. As Politico reports, Mayor Adams expects to peel back further COVID restrictions, but reiterates he is “not going to be rushed in based on a season schedule.”

Somewhat infuriatingly to those who opposed the mandates to begin with, Adams has publicly agreed that Kyrie Irving’s situation is “unfair.” But he insists there is “a solution” available that sounds like we’re still living in the spring of 2020. All Adams says is that Irving “can just get vaccinated.”

Kyrie Irving is the wrong poster-child for this debate in my opinion because he’s not exactly a sympathetic figure. He has a $33 million dollar contract with the Nets and he’s getting paid even for the games he has to sit out. The same is not true for the thousands of working-class people who made the same decision about their personal medical care that Irving did but were sent to the unemployment lines.

Also, much like the face mask rules everyone had to deal with, the efficacy of these vaccine mandates is mostly laughable. The current rules imply that the unvaccinated Irving is too great of a risk to his fellow players and the other team to be allowed on the bench or on the court. But he’s not a risk to the team when he’s sitting in the third row in the VIP section only twenty feet or so away? And he’s not a risk to the thousands of fans who are in the stands with him?

As I said, this is just as idiotic as the face mask rules in public spaces like bars and restaurants. It’s too dangerous for you to walk into the eatery or place your order without a mask, but as soon as the drinks and the breadsticks arrive you can remove your mask and everyone is as safe as a bug in a rug? Seriously?

Perhaps even more to the point, what happens when the vaccine mandate for private-sector employees ends? What about all of the paychecks that the unvaccinated workers missed, assuming they are allowed back to their old jobs? And what of all the people who resisted taking the vaccines until the very last minute but relented because they couldn’t afford to lose their livelihood? They can’t turn around and go get “unvaccinated” just because the mandate has ended. That’s not how vaccines work.

Gradually lifting the mandates for some people but not all is even more stupid than imposing them in the first place. Adams looked like he was getting off to a strong start in his new job with his tough-on-crime approach to some of the city’s most vexing and deadly problems. But he’s slowly angering larger and larger parts of his constituency with these inane, muddled policies. If the city is ready to move on from the pandemic, Eric Adams should be the one leading them out of it and he should be doing it in a sensible fashion that everyone can easily understand and view as being equally applied to all.