Coronavirus | Staten Island restaurant owner won't get vaccinated

Coronavirus | Staten Island restaurant owner won't get vaccinated

Michael Musto can't bring himself to ask his regulars at his Staten Island restaurant, Cargo Cafe, to prove they've been vaccinated against coronavirus.

If New York City presses on with its plans to require eateries, bars, gyms and many other public gathering places to require patrons to show proof of vaccination before they go indoors, he will again shut his dining room and move operations outside.

I just don't see myself doing that, asking for proof, Musto said. Barely half of his neighbors have been fully vaccinated against COVID 19, according to city statistics. Some remain defiant about getting vaccinated, even amid a new surge in infections in the city.

If an operator refuses to turn a customer away, do I need to offer for this anymore? Musto asked.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that later this month the city will require anyone dining indoors at a restaurant, working out in a gym or grabbing cocktails at a bar to show proof they've been inoculated. Workers at such establishments would also have to show that they've received at least one shot of the approved vaccine.

The move is closely watched by other U.S. communities — perhaps as a model, but also as a possible example of governmental overreach.

The country has been forced into a reckoning over whether and how to curtail public life, including where and how people gather, whether it should be required to wear masks and how far to push them into getting vaccinated.

Anything less than vaccination isn't going to get us where we need to go, the mayor said earlier in the week.

It's pretty straightforward, de Blasio said. If they got it, so what are the chances that they have it. If they don't turn around, turn around.

Details are still being worked out, including enforcement and penalties for businesses which refuse to comply. Inspections would not begin until at least Sept. 13. When the city health department mandated masks, violations carried fines of up to $1,000.

Some business owners could try to challenge the policy in court, perhaps arguing that the city overstepped its authority or is applying the rule inequitably. Some religious groups, for example, successfully challenged state pandemic rules which put capacity limits on houses of worship, but not on other liquor stores or bicycle shops.

Law professor Scott Burris, director of Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research, said that while legal challenges are possible, there is probably enough precedent for New York City's impending vaccination rules to past muster with courts.

It's really like a no shirt, no shoes, little service thing, he said. Proof of vaccinations would be added to the list of conditions necessary to receive service.

New York City is not mandating that residents be vaccinated but is goingading them into doing so by preventing them from partaking in some aspects of public life. In public schools, most children are required to show proof of vaccinations against a host of childhood diseases in order to enroll.

Burris said people will not see vaccination wagons on 5th Avenue lining people up, or don't so much splurge, said Fifth Avenue. Why can't the government order people to be vaccinated? It's going to be delegated to employers and restaurants and gyms and so on.

New York City has mostly reopened its economy after being damaged by the outbreak. Hotel and restaurants welcomed customers inside their doors.

Tourists like Vasu Pabbaraju, who are visiting from San Jose, California, are also returning. He and his family were snapping photographs at Olive Garden before grabbing a table at a nearby Times Square.

If he was asked for proof of vaccination — he has an image of his card on his phone — he'd readily comply. I won't get offended if it is anything. It puts me at ease knowing that I'll be eating other people who have been vaccinated, he said.

An individual from Las Vegas, Sarah Dubois, agreed. I'd rather get things back to normal as quickly as we can, she said.

Her companion Mitch Silver, of Waterbury, Connecticut, saw things differently.

I don't like the idea of it, he says. I don't think that government should make mandatory by the government.

Still, Silver said he would produce his vaccination card if asked.

Already, Broadway is requiring all audience members to show proof of vaccination to watch performances. The cast and crew would also have to be vaccinated.

On Wednesday, organizers cancelled the New York International Automobile Show because of the surge in delta variant of COVID -19 and the longer measures announced by state and local officials to stop its spread.

Musto, the staten Island restaurateur, said he would follow the rules and hopes it will help move the city forward in its goal to get more New Yorkers vaccined.

Hopefully it will work, said Musto, who said he and his employees have been vaccinated.

Musto had taken over the business just months before the outbreak prompted the city to eliminate restaurants, bars and many other public places.

I can't afford to have everything shut down again, he said. If that happens, I might have to close permanently. I'm in a negative position to move backwards.