NYC has decided vaccines matter more than tourism
- NYC requiring proof of vaccination for most indoor activities says a lot about the pandemic
- Bill de Blasio isn't just prioritizing health but preserving mask-free indoors and staving off a lockdown.
- His decision implies the US could turn into a two-track economy of vaccinated and unvaccinated areas.
New York City just made a game-changing move for its economy - and maybe the country's.
The mandate comes as the highly contagious
The surge led the
"Masks have value, unquestionably," de Blasio said. "But masks are not going at the root of the problem. Vaccination is."
The Key to NYC Pass is de Blasio's latest attempt to increase the city's vaccination rate, hoping it will convince New Yorkers that they can't enjoy all the city's offerings and activities without being vaccinated.
"This will encourage a lot more vaccination - we've seen it already," de Blasio said while unveiling the mandate. "If you want to participate in our society fully, you've got to get vaccinated." That means tourists from states like Florida or Texas, which have lower vaccination rates and thousands of new infections, will have to vax up or skip that trip to Broadway.
Living in a 2-track economy
New York will be the first US city to introduce an indoor vaccine mandate.
De Blasio is banking on the idea that a healthier population will result in a stronger economy. The epicenter of the outbreak during the spring of 2020, New York has made a big comeback. But it hasn't fully recovered.
Central business districts like midtown still aren't quite as bustling as they used to be, plenty of wealthy people have permanently moved out, and tourism may not fully recover until 2025. A vaccine mandate could deter unvaccinated out-of-state visitors at a time when the city's economy badly needs revenue from tourism. New York welcomed 66 million visitors in 2019 but just 22 million in 2020, The New York Times reported, citing figures from NYC & Company.
But if the mandate pushes more people to get vaccinated, New York may return more quickly to something closer to a prepandemic normal. Highly vaccinated metro areas have had a slight acceleration in job postings over the past four weeks compared with less vaccinated ones, Jed Kolko, Indeed's chief economist, tweeted on Tuesday.
New York could also set the stage for more US cities to impose their own vaccine mandates. The US could then take on a two-track economy: highly vaccinated areas with mandates, and poorly vaccinated regions without. This divide has already begun to form in some states, but vaccine mandates in certain places could sharpen it.
All 50 states have reported rising vaccination rates as the Delta variant has surged. That's good
But given the already stark geographical divides in vaccination rates, it's likely that unification may come later rather than sooner. Until then, absent President Joe Biden mandating vaccination on a federal level, the country is increasingly sorting into a patchwork of vaxed and unvaxed economies.
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