In a move that will allow Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving to play home games and unvaccinated baseball players to take the field when their season begins, Mayor Eric Adams is set to exempt athletes and performers from the city’s vaccine mandate for private workers.
The city’s sweeping vaccine mandate for workers will still apply to people with other types of jobs, including government employees.
Adams had said he felt the vaccine rule was unfair when it came to athletes and performers because a loophole in the measure, imposed under his predecessor, allowed visiting players and performers who don’t work in New York to still play or perform even if they are unvaccinated.
Irving, a vaccine holdout, had been among the most high-profile people impacted. He was able to re-join the team in January but only when they played out of town games.
“It just turns the whole team around when he’s out there, so hopefully we get some good news,” Nets star Kevin Durant said.
Adams has been rolling back vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restrictions, including on Tuesday when he said masks could become optional for children under 5 starting April 4.
Mask mandates for older children have already been removed, as well as rules requiring people to show proof of vaccination to dine in a restaurant, work out at a gym, attend a show, or go to an indoor sporting event.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made vaccination mandatory as a workplace safety rule last year, before leaving office.
All employers are supposed to bar unvaccinated workers from being in shared workplaces.
The city suspended numerous public employees for refusing to get vaccinated, including public servants like firefighters and sanitation workers.
The creation of special exemptions for athletes or entertainers could potentially lead to court challenges arguing the city isn’t applying the law evenly.