Two years after the first COVID case reared its ugly head here, with the omicron wave having definitively receded, the time is right to return New York City to some semblance of normalcy. Mayor Adams is right to suspend Key to NYC rules requiring proof of vaccination to enter a restaurant, gym or entertainment venue starting Monday.
That program achieved its goal of driving up vaccination rates: 77% of all New Yorkers and 87% of adults are now fully vaccinated. If any of the 13% who haven’t gotten their shots after well over a year of widespread availability want to get a drink in a bar or sit down in a diner and eat a burger, the risk is theirs.
It’s true, as former de Blasio adviser Dr. Jay Varma wrote in these pages arguing to keep the mandate, that we must remain vigilant. But the current public health risk doesn’t justify micromanaging society in this manner for another six months or a year.
What is truly puzzling is why the mayor will still require all kids younger than 5 to mask in their classrooms. His logic is that they’re not eligible for shots and get hit harder by COVID than 5-11-year-olds. But those numbers are skewed by kids younger than 1, who are at higher risk of being hospitalized, in part because there are lower thresholds for admitting infants to hospitals. The 0-4 cohort is exceedingly low risk of serious COVID illness, with mortality rates similar to that of the flu. Moreover, if it’s truly a problem that kids are unvaccinated, why is the mask mandate simultaneously being lifted in K-12 schools with low student vax rates? Unvaccinated kids are less vulnerable to COVID than vaccinated adults.