The agencies overseeing New York’s seaports, bridges, trains, and seaports will require their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine or get tested weekly starting next month amid rising cases of the Delta variant, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
Cuomo also told a briefing that he was urging bars, restaurants and other private businesses to consider requiring all customers to be vaccinated before entering.
He also said that vaccines could become mandatory for nursing home workers and teachers if case numbers do not improve.
“If you want to teach my kids, I think you should be vaccinated,” Cuomo said, adding that schools should quickly formulate policies for teachers on vaccines and testing before schools reopen in the coming weeks.
The push by Cuomo marks the latest attempt by government leaders to spur reluctant Americans to get vaccinated as the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges nationwide, infecting mostly unvaccinated people.
Cuomo’s announcement comes on the heels of a decision by President Joe Biden to require millions of federal workers and contractors to show proof of vaccination or be subject to weekly or twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.
Pointing to Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall, which he said sold out a series of shows after adopting a policy of admitting only vaccinated concert-goers, Cuomo urged bars, restaurants and other private businesses to do the same. He did not say he was considering making such a policy mandatory.
“Private businesses – I am asking them and suggesting to them to go to vaccine-only admission,” Cuomo said. “I believe it’s in your best business interest. If I go to a bar and I want to have a drink and I want to talk to the person next to me, I want to know that that person is vaccinated.”
Cuomo said that employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York workers for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees bridges, airports, and other infrastructure in the two states, would need to be vaccinated by Labor Day on Sept. 6 or submit to weekly testing.
The Port Authority did not respond to a question about whether the policy would apply to workers in New Jersey.
The president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents MTA employees on the trains and subways overseen by the agency, said the union would encourage its members to get vaccinated and press for testing options for reluctant workers.
“We strongly believe everyone should get vaccinated,” Tony Utano said in a statement.