Small Business Owners Sue Mayor DeBlasio Over Key to NYC Vaccine Mandate

On Tuesday, August 17, an organization representing independent New York restaurants filed a lawsuit against the city and Mayor DeBlasio to block the city’s vaccine mandate.

The new vaccine mandate, called the Key to NYC pass program, requires employees and patrons to show proof of at least partial vaccination to dine inside and go to entertainment centers and gyms. DeBlasio issued an executive order to require vaccine mandates. While the mandate went into effect on Tuesday, enforcement won’t begin until September 13.

The restaurant owners of the suit claimed, “Requiring people to show proof…would hinder their “business, life savings and livelihood.” They also called the city’s mandate, “…Arbitrary, irrational, unscientific and unlawful.” The plaintiffs argue that the executive order is arbitrary considering that vaccinated and unvaccinated people can contract Covid-19 and the Delta variant.

The businesses involved in the lawsuit are Staten Island’s Max’s Esca, DeLuca’s Italian Restaurant, Pasticceria Rocco, and others. There are about 50 businesses represented from Staten Island and the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn. The suit was filed by The Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue or IROAR.

According to the Associated Press, “The group of restaurateurs that filed the lawsuit…said restaurants and other establishments included in the city’s vaccine mandate were unfairly targeted because many other places such as grocery stores, hair salons, churches, schools and office buildings were excluded from the mandate.” All of the plaintiffs are small business owners who will be directly harmed.

This isn’t the first time restaurant owners have defied New York City orders. Last year, Mac’s Public House owner was arrested twice after refusing to follow the city’s Covid-19 protocols.

On Thursday, DeBlasio gave a virtual news conference where he defended his vaccine mandate. He said, “It would take time for restaurants and other establishments to “get used to it or to figure out” how to put the new rules in place.” He is confident that his order would be successful against the lawsuit. DeBlasio further stated, “I’ve had the conversation with the law department, tremendous confidence that we’re in a very strong legal position.”

New Orleans and San Francisco are following New York City in enacting similar vaccine mandates.


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