New York City will be the first city in the United States to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to use numerous public places. Negative corona tests, as is currently the case in Germany, are no longer sufficient.
From September 13th, said Mayor Bill de Blasio, everyone will need such proof in order to be able to go to bars, restaurants and fitness studios, for example. The Key to NYC Pass, which confusingly is a program rather than a real passport, is part of a series of measures to combat the rapidly expanding Delta variant. Because the number of cases is increasing across the city. About 66 percent of New York City’s adults are fully vaccinated – and authorities hope the new regulations will encourage more people to get the vaccine. This was preceded by the announcement by the US Disease Protection Agency (CDC) that masks are again required indoors for places with a high transmission rate, which in recent days has also included New York.
The catalog of measures also includes vaccination incentives such as $ 100 prepaid cards. “The aim is to convince everyone that now is the time,” said de Blasio.
Broadway only with passport
To watch a Broadway show, eat in a restaurant, or use a gym, one must show proof that one has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – two syringes are not necessary. Accepted evidence includes the “Excelsior Pass”, which the state of New York gives vaccinated persons on request, as well as a new app from the city itself, “NYC Covid Safe”. A paper card issued by the CDC, which vaccination centers distribute, should also work.
The new regulation applies to both customers and employees of the facilities – accordingly, it is equivalent to mandatory vaccination for the latter. Some details have not yet been fully clarified. For example, it is unclear how children under the age of 12 should be treated who are not yet allowed to be vaccinated. (De Blasio said more information would be released in mid-August.) It is also unclear how the operators and employees of the premises should deal with the additional burden of checking their customers. The new measure is “very difficult to implement and controversial for some,” said the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a non-profit hospitality association. Other companies, however, welcome the move because the measures, which were previously voluntary, can now be implemented more easily.
A picture in the app
the NYC Covid Safe App is very simple. It does not establish a direct connection to the agency’s servers. Instead, she simply saves a picture of the vaccination record. This is beneficial for citizens whose vaccination records are stored outside of their state – the US vaccination databases are not centralized. However, Albert Fox Cahn, head of the data protection project Surveillance Technology Oversight, points out some drawbacks. Since the city app basically only saves the said photo, it accepts just about anything as proof of vaccination, which makes forging ID cards extremely easy. “It is a mystery to me how much effort you go to just to reinvent a camera app,” says Cahn.
S. Mitra Kalita, founder of the COVID resource Epicenter New York, says that the measures are necessary to combat the Delta variant. But the new technology should not distract from the larger goal of helping more people get vaccinated. “A lot of people still don’t know that vaccinations are free,” she says. “An app is one thing. But at the moment we need a lot of completely different things.”
Still a rocky road
When it comes to vaccine apps and COVID-19 regulations, the US has a rocky road ahead of it: Some states have simply banned the requirement of proof. Elsewhere you are strict. In San Francisco, for example, hundreds of bars have formed an alliance that require such proof. And more and more employers are now mandating vaccinations, including companies as diverse as Disney, Google and Tyson.
Meanwhile, in countries like France and Italy, there is backlash against the latest regulations. This is what happens in Great Britain, for example currently fiercely disputed about itwhether a vaccination certificate should be required for access to bars and other indoor spaces. And Israel first canceled its “green passport” and then reintroduced it when Delta came along.