New York City Mayor Eric Adams drew charges of implementing a double standard by exempting the city’s athletes and performers from the COVID vaccine mandate while other workers, many of them once deemed essential, are still required to get the shot.
Adams made the announcement at the New York Mets’ Citi Field, explaining, “This is about putting New York City based-performers on a level playing field. Day 1 when I [became] mayor, I looked at the rule that stated hometown players had an unfair disadvantage to those who were coming to visit and immediately I felt we needed to look at that.”
Players from visiting teams were not required to be vaccinated to play in New York. Adams continued,
“We were treating our performers differently because they lived and played for home teams. It’s not acceptable. This exemption has been putting our sports teams at a self-imposed competitive disadvantage. But this new order will help boost our economy.… By putting our home teams on an equal playing field, we increase their chances of winning and that has a real impact on our city.”
He added, “Being healthy is not just about being physically healthy but being economically healthy. I’m going to make some tough choices. People are not going to agree with some of them. I must move this city forward.”
New York athletes such as the Mets’ Brandon Nimmo praised the decision, saying, “I’m excited for all the fans of all New York teams: the Mets, the Yankees, the Nets — good for Kyrie [Irving] to be able to play again for his team at home. Ultimately, we’re very thankful to the mayor for his leadership and for being able to bring something that I think is really good and positive back to New York City in the [form] of baseball, Yankees and Mets.”
Not everyone is happy with the decision. Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association and chair of the umbrella Municipal Labor Committee, said, “There can’t be one system for the elite and another for the essential workers of our city.” He added that there should be a way for workers who were fired to be rehired.
Lynch said, “We have been suing the city for months over its arbitrary and capricious vaccine mandate — this is exactly what we are talking about.” He added, “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.”
Ironically, employees of the Mets (meaning non-players) who were forced to receive the vaccine will not get their jobs back. Mets President Sandy Alderson said, “Let me say on behalf of the Mets that we are fully committed to vaccinations and we are a mandated employer. The vast majority, 99.5 percent of our employees, complied with that mandate and are fully vaccinated. There were one or two cases that came up that people were not prepared to be vaccinated, and their situations were terminated.”
Alderson added, “The players are unionized, and the players are sort of outside the scope of our mandate just by virtue of our relationship with Major League Baseball, the players’ association, etc. So everyone [else] involved with the Mets, including scouts who are not residing in New York City and may not even come to New York City or Citi Field, everybody is required to be vaccinated.”
Some performance venues have stated they will not lift their vaccine requirement.
Adams is correct that the vaccine mandate is hurting the city’s economy and the city must move forward, but this isn’t the way to go about it. The players should be exempt from the mandate, but so should everyone else. The message to average New Yorkers — including police officers, firefighters, frontline workers, as well as people who work at the sporting events such as concession workers, front office staff, and more — is that the elites don’t have to obey laws but you do.
Never mind that the multimillion dollar athlete doesn’t need to work every day to feed his family, while the retail worker does. Never mind that the firefighter puts his or her life on the line to save others, but the singer only entertains. The exemption is right because these athletes and performers shouldn’t have to be vaccinated, but it’s wrong because everyone else still has to take the jab — or lose their jobs.
The right thing for Adams to do — morally and economically — is to lift the vaccine mandate altogether, let the unvaccinated keep their jobs, rehire everyone who refused the jab, and let the city get back to normal. There’s a lot more at stake, Mr. Mayor, than just a winning sports record.