<p>Indoor venues such as the Metropolitan Museum will require vaccine passports</p>

Indoor venues such as the Metropolitan Museum will require vaccine passports

New York vaccine passport: What are the new rules and how will they affect my trip to NYC?

From next week, children as young as five will have to show proof of vaccination

Lucy Thackray
Thursday 09 December 2021 15:43

On 6 December New York City’s mayor announced an increase in the use of vaccine passports in the city, including for children.

Although Bill de Blasio mentioned the omicron variant of Covid as one element of concern, he also said the colder weather and holiday mixing were factors in the decision to introduce stricter measures.

So what are the new rules for locals and visitors in the city, and how might they affect your city break?

Here’s everything we know so far.

Is New York introducing vaccine passports?

Yes, in two phases determined by age.

From 14 December, all children aged from five to 11 will be required to have proof of vaccination for “public indoor activities”.

These include dining establishments and indoor entertainment venues such as theatres, bowling alleys, cinemas, museums, aquariums and zoos.

Then, from 27 December, everyone aged 12 and older participating in public indoor activities will be required to show proof of vaccination to get into the same venues (including more grown up pursuits including nightclubs, banquet rooms and fitness studios).

The rules will apply to both locals and visitors.

This is a blow to tourists and visitors from the UK, who have only been able to travel to the city for just over a month, at one of the busiest times of the year for New York tourism.

The UK is currently offering vaccines to children 12 and over in a rollout that was only announced this month, so it is unlikely many UK-based parents of children aged 5-11 will be able to provide this proof of vaccination.

As such, unvaccinated children of this age group will effectively be barred from indoor venues from 14 December.

This follows a previous rule in NYC, introduced in August but only enforced from 13 September, which required people over the age of 12 to show proof that they have had one dose of the vaccine in order to enter indoor venues such as restaurants and theatres.

Do kids have to be fully vaccinated?

No. The rules state that 5-11 year olds have to have had one dose of a vaccine in order to be allowed to enter indoor venues.

From 27 December, however, people 12 and over will have to show that they’ve had at least two doses of a vaccine, or one dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

How do I show I am fully vaccinated?

This is currently an issue for foreign tourists.

According to the New York government website, tourists can use the following as proof of vaccination:

  • The NYC COVID Safe App, with your vaccine record uploaded
  • The CLEAR Health Pass app (”use the digital vaccine card option in the CLEAR app if you are 18 and older and are fully vaccinated”)

There are also three other options that are tied to having had a vaccine in New York or the wider US.

However, it is unclear at present how foreign vaccine records such as the UK’s NHS Covid Pass may be incorporated into this system.

While UK passes tend to be stored as PDF files, at present the NYC Covid Safe App only accepts image files of “your government issues Covid-19 vaccination card” (a US specific document).

A spokesperson for NYC & Co told The Independent that, while the city is still working out the logistics, tourists should be able to show their NHS Covid Pass along with photo ID - but this has not been confirmed by authorities.

It is unclear at present whether New York City will recognise the UK’s NHS Covid Pass in a more formalised way.

If this is the case, it still won’t help children aged 5-11 in the short term, who are unlikely to have access to either vaccinations or vaccine records for some time.

What other rules will I encounter in New York?

Following an order on 26 November, mask wearing is now compulsory in most indoor venues and public areas where you are mingling with members of the public.

Visitors “should wear a mask at all times when indoors and in a public setting, including at grocery stores, building lobbies, offices, stores, and other common or shared spaces”.

The mask rule applies to everyone over two “who is able to medically tolerate” wearing a mask, and doesn’t apply when you are sitting down to eat or drink.

Might other US cities follow suit?

NYC is the first city to impose this level of vaccine passport rules on its residents and visitors.

San Francisco and LA briefly introduced proof of vaccination for “everyone eligible to get the vaccine”, which soon included children aged 5-11, but amended their rules in late November to apply only to those aged 12 and over.

Since early November, California has mandated proof of vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, cinemas, hair and nail salons, coffee shops, gyms, museums, bowling alleys, performance venues and other spaces.

Since August, New Orleans has also required proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result for people over 12 in order to access restaurants, bars, and entertainment and events venues, but it does state that tourists can use “an official vaccine record issued by another state [or] foreign nation”.

At the other end of the scale, more conservative states such as Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota and Texas have gone as far as banning vaccine passports, or banning businesses from demanding proof of vaccination.

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