Cuomo asks businesses to require vaccines for entry

Private businesses across New York are being encouraged to only allow vaccinated-only admission. This includes restaurants, bars, and stores.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at a Monday morning news briefing. He said he cannot mandate the vaccine requirement because he lacks the legal authority to do it. But the governor noted that the number of people who are hospitalized in New York has doubled in the past month as the delta variant has spread.

"Private businesses, bars, restaurants — go to a vaccine-only admission. I believe it's in your best business interest," Cuomo said. "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. If I go to a restaurant and I'm sitting at a table and the table right next to me, I want to know that they're vaccinated."

Cuomo noted that New York has a platform called Excelsior Pass, which businesses can use to confirm that patrons are vaccinated. 

"They're on apps. They're on phones. It's very simple. You can operate a restaurant and just say, 'You have to show that you were vaccinated when you walk in the door,'" Cuomo said. "It's going to help your business. Call Madison Square Garden. Call Radio City Music Hall. Call the Nets. Call the Islanders, call the Mets, call the businesses that have done it. Call the theaters that have done it."

The governor said he believes that restaurants, bars, and other businesses requiring patrons to be vaccinated will be a "real incentive" for unvaccinated New Yorkers and others to get their shots.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance is working on guidelines for owners of restaurants and bars when it comes to requiring vaccination. Executive Director Andrew Rigie said implementing something will require good communication so that customers know ahead of time what to expect. 

"We're urging restaurants and bars to mandate their employees are vaccinated and their customers but we recognize for many this is going to impose a significant burden making sure you are checking everybody who comes into the restaurant," Rigie said. "It's going to cost money and time and cause conflict with some customers."

New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer plans to require all workers and patrons of his 18 restaurants to be vaccinated starting in September. 

About 3.5 million people in New York still haven't been vaccinated for the coronavirus.

All MTA employees and New York employees of the Port authority must be vaccinated or tested weekly starting Labor Day, the governor announced. Cuomo said that teachers should be added to those who must be vaccinated or face weekly testing.

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The governor said that mask policies are important but vaccine policies are more important.

"You saw the movie. You know how this turns out. You know what happens with the delta variant. You know what those facts mean. You know what's going to happen in the movie," Cuomo said. "Don't wait for what you know is going to happen. We beat the damn thing by being smart the first time. Be smart again."

A short time after the governor made his announcement, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that mask requirements will not be expanded beyond the current rules. De Blasio did "strongly recommend" indoor mask-wearing by vaccinated individuals in possible high-risk environments.

With FOX 5 NY's Sharon Crowley.