NYC Denies That Vaccine-Proof Requirement Is Racially Discriminatory
(Bloomberg) -- New York City pushed back on claims that requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms and clubs discriminates against Black and Hispanic customers.
“The purpose of the Key to NYC program has clearly been stated, to encourage all city residents regardless of race to get vaccinated,” lawyers for the city said Tuesday in a court filing in Brooklyn federal court.
A group of city residents, including restaurant and gym owners, sued the city last month to block the program created by Mayor Bill de Blasio. They claimed it illegally discriminates on the basis of race because Black and Hispanic New Yorkers have vaccination rates below the city average.
About 71% of New Yorkers have had at least one vaccine dose, compared with 47% of Black residents, while the total among Hispanics jumped to 62% after a government outreach to the community, city health department data show. About 53% of White New Yorkers have at least one shot. The highest rates are for Native Americans and Alaska Natives at 91%, followed by Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders at 82%.
A hearing on the plaintiffs’ request for a court order blocking the program is set before U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan on Friday. The lawsuit is one of many challenges to vaccine mandates targeting businesses, patrons and employees, including New York City teachers and healthcare workers statewide.
Key to NYC requires people 12 and older to show proof of at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine for indoor dining, fitness activities, movies, concerts, sporting events and museums. The program also requires staff at those venues to be vaccinated. More than 5.6 million people have obtained an Excelsior Pass, the state’s voluntary app for proving vaccination status, which can be flashed from a phone as proof.
The case is Dixon v. de Blasio, 21-cv-05090, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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