Starting Monday March 7th, New York City is altering their COVID-19 procedures. The restrictions will be alleviated in many ways, and the new policy will allow for indoor settings including music venues, restaurants, movie theaters, and bars to no longer require proof of vaccination. Mayor Eric Adams announced the change on Friday, and chose to hold it in Times Square as a symbol for the vibrancy of the populated city. However, in his statement, Adams clarified that businesses “will still have the flexibility to require proof of vaccination or masking indoors if they choose.” Watch the mayor make the announcement at the link below.
The mayor’s decision came alongside Los Angeles County lifting nearly all of its indoor mask and vaccine-verification restrictions. With this new policy, masks are no longer mandatory in grocery stores, restaurants, bars and other public settings, and people can enter most businesses without proof-of-vaccination or negative test results. However, masks will still be required on public transit, Broadway theaters and some other locations.
The vaccine mandate that the city previously had was put into action in August of 2021, known as the Key To NYC program. This past Saturday on February 27th, it was reported that there were less than 2,000 hospitalizations and the statewide seven-day average test positivity rate for COVID-19 was below 2 percent. This is the first time that levels have been this low since last fall, and the obvious progress has resulted in New York implementing the shifts announced on Friday.
In his statement, the mayor had explained that his intent behind the change revolved around his ongoing effort to reopen the city in the safest and most efficient way possible. Adams, like many other people, is looking to restore a sense of normalcy due to the comfort that came from this drop in Covid-19 cases and make strides to heal the city's damaged economy.
Adams declared his hope for tourists to once again enjoy the New York, and congratulated the city’s persistence and mass vaccination which has allowed for the progress that we are witnessing. Mayor Eric Adam’s presented a positive mood with his speech, optimistically stating that “The fight may not be over, but we’re clearly winning the war. We are open for business and New York City has its groove back.”
Some health experts believe that Mr. Adams’ drop of restrictions is far too sudden, and therefore will put New York residents’ health at risk. Some people have argued that the Key to NYC program has kept people safe, especially in New York City where they have a consistent flow of international visitors passing through. Liz Krueger, a state senator from Manhattan, has expressed concern as well. “As we have seen over and over during the pandemic, when we let our guard down too soon it only serves to prolong the crisis” said Kruger in an open letter to Adams.
This change in policy allows for flexibility in what concert venues in New York City can require in regards to COVID-19 precautions. There will be more announcements in the near future to come from these stadiums and venues as to how they will react to the policy change and alleviation of the mandate.
As of the current moment, the effect that this shift will have on the music and touring industries is unclear, and similar to the circumstances we have been experiencing throughout the entirety of this pandemic, the permanency of these policies is uncertain. Although the health risks are certainly a valid concern to this new chapter of the pandemic, we can hope that re-opening cities will give the live music industry a chance to rebuild after the struggles faced during the last few years.