New York City will allow unvaccinated athletes to play at home
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s mayor will announce on Thursday that he is exempting athletes and entertainers from the city’s vaccination mandate for private workers, a move that will allow Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving to play from home and unvaccinated baseball players to take to the field when their season begins.
Mayor Eric Adams will make the announcement Thursday morning and it will take effect immediately, according to a person familiar with the upcoming announcement who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
The city’s broad vaccination mandate for workers will still apply to people in other types of jobs, including government employees.
Adams had said he felt the vaccine rule was unfair to athletes and performers because a loophole in the measure, imposed under his predecessor, allowed visiting players and performers who do not work in New York to continue playing or performing even if they are not vaccinated.
Irving, a vaccine resistant, had been among the most prominent people affected. He was able to join the team in January, but only when they played out-of-town games.
Irving and Nets coach Steve Nash said they wouldn’t comment until an official announcement. Irving scored 43 points Wednesday night on his 30th birthday in a 132-120 loss at Memphis after scoring a career-high 60 on March 15 in Orlando in the last game he was eligible for. The Nets need him as they push for a playoff spot with nine games left in their regular season.
“It transforms the whole team when he’s there, so hopefully we get some good news,” Nets star Kevin Durant said.
Earlier this month, concerns were raised that the rule would also impact Major League Baseball.
Yankees star Aaron Judge declined to directly answer a question about his vaccination status earlier this month, suggesting another New York team would be hampered by a player’s refusal to to get vaccinated.
Asked about a possible vaccine exemption on Wednesday, the judge said he was “happy that Kyrie could play home games.”
“If the warrant isn’t there, it’s good for Kyrie,” Judge told The Associated Press during spring training in Tampa, Fla., adding that he “wasn’t too worried. of the effect of the tenure on the Yankees.
The Yankees, who open their season at home against the Boston Red Sox on April 7, said earlier this month that the team president was “working with city hall and all other appropriate officials on this matter.” The Yankees declined to comment Wednesday.
Adams, a Mets fan, is expected to make an “economic and health announcement” Thursday morning at Citi Field, where the Mets play, according to his official schedule released Wednesday night.
Adams has rolled back vaccination mandates and other coronavirus restrictions, including on Tuesday when he said masks could become optional for children under 5 starting April 4.
Mask mandates for older children have already been scrapped, along with rules requiring people to show proof of vaccination to dine at a restaurant, work out at a gym, catch a show or attend a indoor sporting event.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made vaccinations mandatory as a workplace safety rule last year before leaving office.
All employers are expected to prohibit unvaccinated workers from being in shared workplaces.
The city has suspended numerous public employees for refusing to be vaccinated, including officials like firefighters and garbage collectors.
Creating special exemptions for athletes or artists could potentially lead to legal challenges arguing that the city is not applying the law consistently. ___
AP freelance writer Mark Diddler in Tampa, Florida contributed to this report.