New York City proposes vaccinating tourists in popular spots

Initiative would park vans administering the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine in tourist locations across the city

Tourists visiting New York City may soon be able to get vaccinated under the bright lights of Times Square or in the shadows of the Empire State Building or Brooklyn Bridge.

That is the future that the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, is envisioning with an initiative that would park vaccination vans in popular tourist spots across the city that can administer the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to anyone who wants one.

“This is a positive message to tourists. ‘Come here, it’s safe, it’s a great place to be and we’re going to take care of you,’ ” De Blasio said at a press conference on Thursday.

We’ll set up mobile vaccination sites at iconic #NYC spots to provide the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to anyone who needs it — and if the State gives us approval, we’ll include the tourists who are coming back in droves.

New York City is open for business, one shot at a time. pic.twitter.com/xOVWjz7Qq5

— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 6, 2021

The city said vans could go out as early as this weekend, though it would first need the state to modify its rules about administering vaccinations to non-New Yorkers who do not work in the state. The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, has yet to comment on De Blasio’s plan, though the state’s health department told NBC New York it had not received a formal plan from the city. (It is not clear how effective the vaccines would be during the tourists’ stay in New York City since most take two weeks for a full immune response.)

De Blasio’s plan would target domestic travelers as many international travelers are banned from entering the US under current federal regulations. Reported talks between the EU and the US over a vaccine passport have hinted at the possibility of summer travel between the two countries, though no confirmed plans have been announced.

While the city saw 66m tourists in 2019, the numbers dropped to 22.9m in 2020 as the pandemic limited travel to domestic tourists. The tourism industry brought $72bn into New York in 2019 and was supported by more than 400,000 jobs.

If given the green light by the state, the program would give a quick inoculation to tourists looking to enter places that require a vaccination, something that might become commonplace in the city.

New York state has developed the Excelsior Pass, its own vaccine passport to be used at large events. Even when businesses are allowed to reopen to full capacity, large indoor venues must require attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test. Smaller businesses can sidestep social distancing regulations by also requiring verification.

The push to incentivize travel to New York comes at a time when the city is facing, like many places across the country, a slowing vaccination pace as those who were most eager to get the vaccine have already got it.

The city administered just over 30,000 doses on Thursday, a large decrease from a month ago when up to 115,000 doses were being administered a day. As of Friday morning, 56% of adult New Yorkers had received their first dose of the vaccine while 42% were fully vaccinated, according to city data.

Last week, De Blasio announced that the city’s goal would be to fully reopen by 1 July. On Monday, Cuomo, who criticized the date for being too far in the future, announced that most businesses in the state will be allowed to reopen to full capacity on 19 May.

As a perk for getting vaccinated, New Yorkers can get free baseball tickets to a Yankees or Mets game if they get vaccinated at one of the teams’ baseball stadiums. New Yorkers can also get free admission to the Museum of Natural History if they get vaccinated inside the museum.

Contributor

Lauren Aratani

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
California and New York City to mandate vaccine for government workers
Department of Veterans Affairs becomes first major federal agency to require healthcare workers to receive Covid shot

Joan E Greve in Washington, Dani Anguiano in San Francisco and agencies

27, Jul, 2021 @12:40 PM

Article image
New York: 9,000 public workers put on unpaid leave for refusing Covid vaccine
Mayor says thousands of firefighters have called out sick in apparent protest, with 18 of 350 units out of service

Maya Yang and agencies

01, Nov, 2021 @6:18 PM

Article image
New York City public schools to reopen for in-person learning
Schools will reopen on 7 December, starting with elementary schools for students whose parents agree to weekly testing

Staff and agencies

29, Nov, 2020 @8:54 PM

Article image
New York City coronavirus death toll jumps past 10,000 in revised count
Soaring death toll has been fueled by adding 3,778 people who weren’t tested for Covid-19 but are presumed to have died from it

Oliver Milman in New York

15, Apr, 2020 @1:31 PM

Article image
New York mayor De Blasio asks if Trump is telling city to 'drop dead' over Covid-19
Mayor of city at center of coronavirus outbreak says not enough is being done to help finances of areas struck by pandemic

Edward Helmore in New York City

19, Apr, 2020 @9:49 PM

Article image
New York City to fine people who refuse to wear masks as Covid rates rise
Bill de Blasio announces mask crackdown amid rise in positive tests, while officials reveal concern over virus increase in nine zip codes

Joanna Walters in New York

29, Sep, 2020 @6:36 PM

Article image
New York veterinarians give ventilators to 'war effort' against coronavirus
Mayor Bill de Blasio urges anybody in the city with a ventilator to come forward: ‘We could use every single one of them’

Miranda Bryant in New York

02, Apr, 2020 @2:57 PM

Article image
New York enlists 'army' of contact tracers to beat coronavirus – but will it work?
Both city and state aim to recruit thousands to trace contacts of those diagnosed with coronavirus as part of plans to reopen

Miranda Bryant in New York

20, May, 2020 @7:30 AM

Article image
'It's chaotic': New York street partying fuels fears of coronavirus resurgence
Cases of Covid-19 among the young are on the rise as outdoor drinking draws crowds in neighbourhoods across the city

Miranda Bryant in New York

23, Jul, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Why New York mayor is the ‘second toughest job in America’
The next mayor faces profound challenges: a city ravaged by the pandemic and beset by deep income inequality a reckoning over racial discrimination

Adam Gabbatt in New York

22, Apr, 2021 @6:00 AM