Museums and theaters are in a period of vaccine mandate adjustment

Yet many prominent cultural institutions refused to end their vaccination mandates when Mayor Eric Adams gave them permission to do so more than two weeks ago.

On March 4, Eric Adams announced that the city would enter a comeback phase. To help it achieve this, it eliminated the six-month-old Key to NYC program, which required customers at all indoor activities to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccinations.

“We need to get our economy back on track,” he said that day. “It’s time to open up our city.”

The Key to NYC mandate was installed by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio as a way to entice young New Yorkers to get vaccinated, according to city documents in a lawsuit challenging the mandate. A survey conducted by the city showed that 58% of people would be “somewhat” or “a lot” motivated to get vaccinated if it was necessary to attend sporting events and concerts, for example. De Blasio’s senior public health adviser, Jay Varma, posited in an affidavit that the city needed to have near-full vaccination coverage to prevent further spread of the virus that could cause the city to shut down.

But while the high rate had no impact on the city’s winter virus surge compared to similar places without vaccination rules, some city officials and heads of cultural institutions were still reluctant to end the mandate immediately. , they said.

“When a policy is announced, there is a period of time to implement it,” Sacramone said.

The biggest operational problem in the city is discussing changes with staff. Sacramone said she and other cultural leaders have spoken to their individual staff to get a sense of their feelings on the changing protocols.

“We want to make sure they feel comfortable,” said Stephanie Wilchfort, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

“It’s a different situation than some other environments,” she said. “We can have 1000 people in the museum at the same time.” Wilchfort added that with good weather and falling Covid-19 case rates, the museum had recently seen some of its best days since March 2020. On average, about two-thirds of visitors returned, he said. she said, although recent weekends have actually topped some pre-2020 visitation numbers.

Other concerns in the performing arts included what would happen if an artist tested positive, Sacramone said, which could precipitate the cancellation of an entire production and whether ticket holders would feel bad about it. comfortable if they bought tickets under one set of rules but attended the show under another. . Broadway theaters are keeping the vaccine pass until at least April 30; they will discuss it on April 1, according to the Broadway League.

Currently, about two-thirds of the city’s children between the ages of 5 and 11 do not have two doses of the vaccine and cannot visit museums or see performances. The Department of Education allowed class trips to resume from last week, and most museums appear to be allowing all children to come with their class. The NYC key included legal protections to exclude unvaccinated customers, and Adams said he would continue to provide legal coverage.

But Sacramone said the end was likely in sight, as cultural institutions pledged to end their vaccine checks in the near future.

“We have to be sensitive to science,” she said. “But there is a period of adaptation.”

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