Last weekend, comedian, podcast host and ivermectin enthusiast Joe Rogan performed before an in-person crowd at Madison Square Garden, despite staying silent about whether or not he’s vaccinated against COVID-19.
But most other people entering the Garden for these events are required by New York City to show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, whether they’re audience members living in the boroughs or players on the New York Knicks.
The disparities between local performers and out-of-town entertainers highlight a loophole in the city’s guidelines that critics argue is not just unfair but a possible risk to public health. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office didn’t answer when directly asked about the justification for the out-of-state exception, which also applies to support staff accompanying the athletes and performers. But it would ostensibly allow the entertainment industry to reopen with fewer restrictions.
Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, for example, has been sidelined and barred from team practice because he has declined to say whether or not he’s gotten the jab—and is required to take a shot to play professional basketball in the city. But unvaccinated traveling opponents are permitted to play. In the coming days, the Washington Wizards are scheduled to field defender Bradley Beal against the Knicks, despite publicly stating that he is still unvaccinated.
Now, some elected officials are calling for the gap, which originated with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Key to NYC executive order in August, to be closed.
“What it sends is a bad message to the public that somehow performers and athletes are exempt from routine public health standards like the COVID-19 vaccination requirement,” said State Sen. Brad Hoylman. “We have to be consistent across all levels of government and society.”
This week, Hoylman, who represents parts of Manhattan, introduced a bill that would close the loophole and require all performers, athletes and their support staff to be vaccinated regardless of where they live. However, any action on the bill is likely far off—Hoylman is still seeking a co-sponsor in the Assembly, and the state legislature is unlikely to return to Albany before the next session begins in January. Still, the state senator says it needs fixing now.
“There may be folks sitting in that audience of Joe Rogan who couldn’t get vaccinated because they’re immunocompromised. They might be battling cancer or have another medical issue,” Hoylman said. “I just don’t buy the argument that this somehow hurts anyone’s bottom line.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer agreed. But while she supports Hoylman’s bill, she said she did not understand why Mayor de Blasio hasn’t issued a second executive order plugging the loophole, which would go into effect immediately.
“You need just a few cases at Barclays or Madison Square Garden. I don’t know what that would do; maybe that would shut down the whole thing for a couple of weeks. Who needs that?” said Brewer.
In a statement, City Hall spokesperson Laura Feyer said, “we are proud to have implemented our first-in-the-nation Key to NYC vaccination program. It’s been an incredible success so far. We will review the legislation.”
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)