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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Eric Adams Exempts City Athletes and Performers From NYC COVID Mandate

Yankees President Randy Levine (left), Mayor Eric Adams (center) and Mets President Sandy Alderson (right)

I am not the only one who sees the disparate treatment of who can/cannot work depending on whether or not he/she is vaccinated, in NYC. In my opinion, Mayor Adams is implementing public policy in an unlawful manner:

After Mayor Adams lifts vaccine mandate for athletes and performers, NYC teachers union asks about their workers

By Reema Amin, Chalkbeat, Mar 24, 2022, 4:50pm EDT

New York City’s teachers union wants to open discussions with Mayor Eric Adams about allowing their unvaccinated members to work — one month after 900 education department employees were fired for not getting their shots.

The ask from the union came Thursday, after Adams made the controversial decision to allow the city’s unvaccinated professional athletes and performers to play and perform once again within the five boroughs, even as outsiders had still been permitted to perform or play in those same venues. Adams said the policy change closed a “confusing loophole” in the rules.

The move immediately brought backlash from labor unions, after Adams said the city is not currently considering changing rules for city workers.

The United Federation of Teachers, or the UFT, issued a statement on how vaccines remain a “critical tool” against COVID, and “the city should not create exceptions to its vaccination requirements without compelling reasons.”

“If the rules are going to be suspended, particularly for people of influence, then the UFT and other city unions are ready to discuss how exceptions could be applied to city workers,” the union said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted a vaccine mandate in the fall for the education department and other city employees, drawing multiple legal challenges, including from teachers and unions representing schools staffers. Those challenges were unsuccessful.

Adams supported de Blasio’s mandate. In February, the new mayor fired more than 1,400 city workers — less than 1% of city staff — who had been on unpaid leave for months after failing to get vaccinated, the New York Times reported. Sixty-three percent of the fired workers were education department employees, who made up less than 1% of all schools employees.

Other unions blasted Adams’ decision for giving athletes a pass but not doing the same for public employees, including the union representing police officers and Harry Nespoli, the chair of the Municipal Labor Committee.

“There can’t be one system for the elite and another for the essential workers of our city,” Nespoli said in a statement. “We stand ready to work out the details with the Mayor, as we have been throughout this process.”

In his announcement about athletes and performers on Thursday, Adams insisted he was not making the decision under pressure or “loosely, haphazardly,” but rather “because the city has to function.”

Asked Thursday if he’s considering rehiring unvaccinated city workers, Adams told reporters “not at this time.” While lauding the majority of city workers who got their shots, he said those who were unvaccinated workers “understood” the rules.

“And they decided not to do so, so at this time we’re not entertaining it,” Adams said.

On top of peeling back vaccine restrictions for professional athletes and performers in private venues, Adams has steadily peeled back other COVID mitigations, including dropping the proof-of-vaccine requirement for restaurants and other indoor venues. For the city’s public schools, Adams gave the green light to make masks optional for K-12 earlier this month, and is expected to extend that policy to children under 5 early next month.

Reema Amin is a reporter covering New York City schools with a focus on state policy and English language learners. Contact Reema at


Mayor Adams has required any and all employees of the NYC Department of Education to be vaccinated with a few exceptions. Some people are getting their medical or religious exemption, and are working remotely or not at all, but getting paid. These people I have lovingly called the "new rubber roomers".

As of Thursday, if you are a performer or a city athlete you are exempted from the vaccine mandate. Kyrie Irving will be playing. City Council Speaker panned his decision as disparate treatment (but Mayor Adams says, so what?)

I wish I could write about how this all makes sense, but I cannot. It doesn't. The exemptions are being handed out, it seems to me, in a random and arbitrary way, depending on who Eric Adams likes/doesn't like (for example, he prefers lobbyist Cory Johnson and Randy Levine over Patrick Lynch, PBA President) or who may be politically useful to him.

It's all about the money.


 Mayor Eric Adams exempted the city’s athletes and performers from the Big Apple’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Thursday following weeks of pressure after it kept Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving from playing in home games — and was expected to block some baseball players from taking the field next month.

Speaking at Citi Field and joined by executives of both the Mets and Yankees, Adams said Thursday that he has signed the order. The exemption was effective immediately.

“Being healthy is not just about being physically healthy, but being economically healthy,” he said.

Adams also prefaced his announcement by saying: “I’m going to make some tough choices. People are not going to agree with some of them. I must move this city forward.

“Generals lead from the front. I was not elected to be fearful, but to be fearless.”

Among those who blasted Adams’s decision was the city’s next-highest elected official, fellow Democrat and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams of Queens, who voiced “serious concerns” over what she called “a step away from following sensible, public health-driven policies that prioritize equity.”

“I’m worried about the increasingly ambiguous messages that are being sent to New Yorkers about public health during this continuing pandemic,” the council speaker said.

“This exemption sends the wrong message that higher-paid workers and celebrities are being valued as more important than our devoted civil servants, which I reject.”

In addition to exempting professional athletes and performing artists, Adams’ executive order covers the arenas, stadiums, concert halls and theaters where they ply their trades — down to the smallest Greenwich Village jazz club or Brooklyn music bar.

But Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, said, “Broadway theatres anticipate no change in our protocols based on this announcement.”

“We continue to evaluate our COVID safety protocols for audiences, cast and crew, in concert with our unions and medical experts,” St. Martin added.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Opera also said it wasn’t changing its policy for attendees, artists, orchestra and chorus members, and staffers, all of whom “must show proof of vaccination upon arrival at the Met.”

The city’s sweeping vaccine mandates — which led to the firings of more than 1,400 city employees — will still apply to both municipal and private-sector workers.

During a Q&A session with reporters, Adams said he didn’t plan to re-hire any of the fired municipal workers, saying the issue had been litigated in the courts.

Adams said he expected criticism but made the move “because the city has to function” and was heavily reliant on the tourism industry.

"This is about putting New York City-based based performers on a level playing field,” he said. “Hometown players had an unfair disadvantage.”Adams also said a provision in former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s private-sector mandate that exempted out-of-town athletes and performers was unfair to the Big Apple and its sports teams.

Earlier Thursday, the leaders of several municipal unions blasted Adams for adopting a double standard that they said favored famous athletes and other celebrities.

“There can’t be one system for the elite and another for the essential workers of our city,” said Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association and chair of the umbrella Municipal Labor Committee.

Nespoli also invoked the 1,400-plus city employees who were fired for refusing to get jabbed, saying: “There should be a re-entry program for workers to get their jobs back.”

“When New York City shut down, many workers were mandated to come in every day without vaccines to keep the city running,” he said.

“These workers often got sick, and when they got better, came right back to work.”

The executive director of District Council 37, which represents 150,000 workers and is the city’s largest municipal union, said, “We demand that those who lost their job over the mandate be reinstated.”

“These are the same essential workers who kept the City going during the height of the pandemic,” Henry Garrido said.

“They deserve the respect and dignity of having their jobs back. They deserve to be treated equally to their private-sector counterparts.”

The head of the NYPD Detectives’ Endowment Union, Paul DiGiacomo, said Adams’ move “doesn’t make sense.”

“The objective, scientific findings do not support giving athletes one option and New York City detectives another option,” he said.

“This vaccine mandate is being done in the middle of a crime wave. We are losing experienced detectives in the homicide squad, precinct squads. The only losers are the people of New York.”

Patrick Lynch, president of the 24,000-member Police Benevolent Association, said, “We have been suing the city for months over its arbitrary and capricious vaccine mandate — this is exactly what we are talking about.”

“If the mandate isn’t necessary for famous people, then it’s not necessary for the cops who are protecting our city in the middle of a crime crisis,” he said in a prepared statement.

“While celebrities were in lockdown, New York City police officers were on the street throughout the pandemic, working without adequate PPE and in many cases contracting and recovering from Covid themselves. They don’t deserve to be treated like second-class citizens now.”

A spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers, which represents the city’s public school educators, said, “Vaccinations are a critical tool against the spread of COVID, and the city should not create exceptions to its vaccination requirements without compelling reasons.”

“If the rules are going to be suspended, particularly for people with influence, then the UFT and other city unions are ready to discuss how exceptions could be applied to city workers,” the spokesperson added.

Last week, the US Supreme Court said it would consider an appeal filed by 15 teachers workers who claim their rights were violated when the Department of Education refused to grant them exemptions based on their religious beliefs.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa also announced a preemptive news conference outside the entrance to Citi Field, 45 minutes before Adams was scheduled to speak there.

“In 2020, we saw the very best of New York in our first responders, essential workers and teachers. In response, they’ve now been told by two governors and two mayors to take the shot or lose their job,” Giuliani said in a statement.

“It’s time to right those wrongs by ending all mandates, reinstating these heroes, and giving them back pay. The freedom to make personal health decisions shouldn’t only be the right of athletes and performers.”

Mayor’s vaccine-mandate change a win for NYC sports – but clear double standard

Mike Vaccaro, NY POST, March 23 2022

So Kyrie Irving decided to play the long game in this surreal hand of poker with two New York City mayors, and it turns out he really did draw to the inside straight he’s been waiting on for five months. It turns out he can play basketball games for the Nets at Barclays Center, just in time for the playoffs.

It turns out the Yankees and Mets, who were informed last week that their eligibility to play in The Bronx and in Queens could be compromised if they remained unvaccinated will get a similar reprieve with plenty of time to spare before Opening Day. And if you are a stand-up comic or a guitar player or an actor, you can go back to work inside the city limits, too.

You can read and wonder about what that means to the cops, the firefighters and the other city workers who took similar stands these past few months, those who lost their jobs, those who now see multimillionaire entertainers and athletes spared a similar burden. The debate over their fates, and their futures, is just as important.

In truth, it’s more important.

Here, we have reserved judgment on both Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated as well as New York’s continuing refusal to grant him a waiver because, frankly, as long as it was law it was right to make even famous New Yorkers abide by it — even after it reached a proper expiration date, as it probably did a few months ago.

It will be on Mayor Eric Adams to properly explain the separate standards for celebrities and civilians, and it will be interesting to see how he handles that gauntlet.

As far as New York sports is concerned, however, as long as we keep the context strictly between the foul lines and the base lines, this will be a game-changer. The Nets may still be a piece or two shy of making a sustained championship run, but they also now know they will have two of the game’s 20 best players — Irving and Kevin Durant — on their side as they enter the postseason. And that’s an awfully good place to be.

The Yankees and the Mets? Well, we were always a little fuzzy about who really is vaccinated and who isn’t, and so it was hard to game out who would be affected until they collided with the vaccine mandate come April 7 (Opening Day at Yankee Stadium) and April 15 (the Mets’ home opener at Citi Field).

The Yankees will still likely have to face these questions when they make at least the first of their three trips to Toronto — where a vaccine mandate remains in place — which won’t happen until May 2. They’ll deal with that when they have to. They’ll field a full team — barring injury, of course — until then. (The Mets don’t play in Canada this year.)

That is all good news for New York’s sports fans, and better news for the athletes. It also likely proves that, for all the hits in the public forum that baseball has taken in recent weeks and months for being out of touch, for being too old and creaky, for being too slow, baseball still rules the roost, at least in New York City.

Make no mistake, no matter what Adams will say: without the looming specter of baseball season being profoundly affected, this doesn’t happen. Irving is the one who symbolized the dissent for the mandate rule, and getting him back full-time is the best news to hit the Nets all year. But baseball pushed the domino.

And so sports will look like sports around here, again, for real, for the first time since March 12, 2020. There are no restrictions on stadiums or arenas any more, almost no masks in those stands, and Kyrie Irving will be allowed to break ankles on a basketball floor while New York’s baseball players chase after the long summer. Nice narrative.

Though you may want to check in with those cops and firefighters and city workers before we declare it a happy ending.