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What Should Your Restaurant Do about the NYC Vaccine Mandate?

NYC has announced mandated vaccine for visiting and working at restaurants, gyms & venues.

On Tuesday, NYC Mayor DeBlasio held a press conference announcing that vaccination will be mandatory for anyone visiting or working indoors at restaurants, fitness centers, and entertainment venues in New York City. He stopped short of reinstating a mask mandate indoors. 

Unfortunately, the press conference is all that businesses currently have to work with. Written guidelines won’t be released for another week. Here’s what we do know now:

Modifications to the mandate are expected.  

We anticipate there will be substantial modifications when the order comes out during the week of 8/16.  In particular, not everyone can be vaccinated and there was no accommodation identified in the mayor’s announcement.  Most of our clients are “slow walking” this until the final guidance is published – expecting there will be necessary changes to what was announced.

The vaccination mandate for New York City employees (fire, sanitation, teachers, etc.) is actually less stringent than what was announced for restaurant and gym workers and our guests because it allows for weekly testing if not vaccinated.

Only one dose?

Mayor DeBlasio stated that one dose would be required by September 13th (for employees and guests) and there was nothing noted about a second dose.  The newest data shows very low efficacy against the Delta variant after just a single dose, so we expect the final guidance will eventually require two doses.

Find out who’s already vaccinated.

Your first priority should be to get employees who are already vaccinated to enter their information to get a better picture of the actual vaccination rate. Most of our clients are finding that they have many employees who had previously chosen not to share their vaccine info or just hadn’t gotten around to it.  A good first step is to get communication out to your employees encouraging them to input that info ASAP.

Manager vaccinations are key for culture.

Several clients have noted a low vaccination rate among managers – the group who we will need to lead by example and act as vaccination champions.  Plus, if there’s going to be management turnover as a result of the vaccine mandate, everyone would want to know that sooner rather than later.

Expect turnover.

Both the NYC Restaurant Alliance and NYS Restaurant Association estimate an overall employee loss of roughly 10% as a direct result of this mandate.  That may be reduced if retail employees are included in the final guidance.  If you need to be vaccinated to work in restaurants and not in retail, that would be a reason for some to make a  job move.  But if both required it, then the turnover rate would be expected to be lower.

Vaccines are easily available.

Shots are available free of charge all over New York City.  

There are several good vaccine finder sites.  The first link includes local pharmacies and community centers and has the most accurate “in stock” function:

This NYC specific site has fewer locations listed but includes some community centers and other options that don’t appear on the first site – many of which are in underserved communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx and have extended evening, night time and weekend hours.


Assign a “vaccine champion”.

We’ve seen success with designating restaurant level “vaccine champions” who help employees locate shots nearest their work or home, navigate the process in a language that’s not their native one, coordinate sending the team member(s) to get vaccinated before, during or after a shift, maybe even hold their hand… It works!

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.