Pol Position: Mandatory for some, but not for others
NYC Mayor Eric Adams claims that his recent decision to lift the COVID-19 vaccination mandate is an attempt to bring back the city’s illustrious “nightlife” that “the city that never sleeps“ is and has always been known for.
“We’re going to keep our nightlife industry thriving, a $35.1 billion industry. By putting our home teams on equal playing fields we increase their chances of winning and that has a real impact on our city. It’s not just fans in the stands, it’s people in the stores. Every time a championship or a game is played here it’s a boost of $11 million into our economic impact during the playoff season,” Adams said in his press conference. “Expanding this exemption, which only applies to a small number of people, is crucial.”
While the announcement comes just in time for the upcoming NBA playoffs and MLB 2022 season, many New Yorkers are in an uproar that Hizzoner is caving in to the pressure from celebrity holdouts, including Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, who have both expressed their disinterest in taking the vaccine which many city workers have been forced to take at risk of losing their job.
NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said that this sends the wrong message to the city that athletes and celebrities making millions of dollars each year are exempt while so many others have been losing their jobs.
“This exemption sends the wrong message that higher-paid workers and celebrities are being valued as more important than our devoted civil servants, which I reject. This is a step away from following sensible public health-driven policies that prioritize equity,” Speaker Adams said.
In the Mayor’s defense:
The entertainment industry was one facet of New York City living that experienced a significant blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of people lost their jobs when concert venues and arenas were shut down due to the virus.
Stagehands and union employees who put in the work to ensure that these concerts and events were able to function properly have been out of work for a very long time, and are eager to go back.
Since the mandate was enforced many performances scheduled to take place in New York City have been canceled or postponed indefinitely.
According to a report made by NYS Comptroller DiNapoli last year, employment in arts, entertainment and recreation declined by 66 percent as of December 2020, representing the largest decline among one of the City’s most valued economic sectors.
While there are many who are opposed to the Mayor’s recent announcement, it’s important from the standpoint of economic recovery to bring back these institutions where so many people have traditionally been employed.
Vendors, security, and stagehands have all had to go without work, and two years later, several have had to make difficult decisions in order to make ends meet.
In defense of the mandate:
The mayor’s kowtowing to the demands of rich ballplayers who refuse to observe the mandate enforced on city employees may allow for there to be a 2022 MLB season but it could lead to rifts between the city and municipal workers that feel they were strong-armed into falling in line with the vaccine requirement.
Healthcare workers were the most impacted by this requirement. When the mandate first came into effect, many of the essential workers who helped treat the sick at the start of the pandemic suddenly found themselves in a predicament. Many felt they were made to choose, risking their jobs by holding out on taking the shots.
Earlier this week, The New York Post spoke with an unvaccinated Harlem resident who was sent home from her job as a waitress at Citi Field because she didn’t want to get the shot. According to the Citi Field employee, Elissa Embree, she hasn’t been vaccinated because she had two miscarriages and is worried that the vaccine could possibly increase her risk for another.
“I’m not as important as a Met is, because a Met will fill Citi Field, which fills the coffers of New York,” Embree said in the article. “They don’t care about little ol’ me, who pays middle-class taxes. The elusive ‘they’ don’t care that I have been out of work and that I have been at my breaking point.”
While the CDC states that there is no definitive evidence showing that the COVID-19 vaccine causes any such fertility problems, her overall frustration with the franchise echoes the remarks of numerous other NYC workers who have been pushed out of their job due to the mandate.
Presently, more than 1,400 NYC municipal workers lost their jobs for refusing to take the vaccine.