New York’s restaurant workers should receive priority access to the coronavirus vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
The idea of expanding eligibility for the coveted shots to the group has been debated since New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week cleared restaurants to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity, starting Feb. 14.
“Restaurant workers now are going to be in enclosed places with people eating and drinking,” said de Blasio during a City Hall press briefing. “Every doctor on this line or anyplace else will say that’s an area of concern.
“Now that the state has made this decision [on indoor dining] it follows that we have to protect those workers and they should be added to the 1B category.”
The state, not the city, has the authority to determine which New Yorkers are eligible to be vaccinated when, and has established a tiered list of priorities.
The rollout is currently up to tier 1B, which includes first responders, school employees, grocery store workers and peopled age 65 and up.
While lacking the authority to make the change happen himself, de Blasio said that he believed Albany would take notice of his remarks at the briefing.
“I think when I say these thing publicly it’s duly noted in Albany,” he said. “These are folks who serve us, who we depend on, who in the course of one of their shifts will be in contact with multiple people. We need to protect them.”
Asked about the idea Monday, Cuomo pointed out that New York is already grappling with a severe lack of vaccine doses due to supply-chain issues, a problem that has forced the postponement of tens of thousands of appointments and closure of inoculation sites.
However, on Tuesday Cuomo said local governments may now add restaurant workers, taxi drivers and developmentally disabled facilities to the current eligible Phase 1B group for COVID-19 vaccines.