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Washington DC issues COVID-19 vaccine mandate for indoor activities

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 12/22/2021 Stephen M. Lepore For Dailymail.Com

Washington, D.C., has joined other major cities in issuing COVID-19 vaccine mandates for indoor activities including dining and gyms, as cases continue to rise across the U.S. with the emergence of the Omicron variant. 

Those age 12 and older will need to have at least one dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines by January 15 and two doses, or one shot of Johnson & Johnson's jab, by February 15, 2022, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday.

The mandate will affect several city landmarks, as well as indoor dining and Capital One Arena - home to the NBA's Washington Wizards and NHL's Washington Capitals. 

The owners of the arena, Monumental Sports, announced Wednesday that all staff have been previously vaccinated and they will cooperate with the mandate. 

D.C. joins New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans and Boston in issuing coronavirus vaccine mandates for indoor activities.  

The Omicron variant is driving a massive surge in COVID-19 cases in a number of states, with Hawaii now leading the nation in the rate of increase. 

New York, Georgia and Texas are all seeing major surges in new COVID cases, which are up more than 100 percent in the past two weeks in those states, according to new data on Wednesday. 

Omicron now accounts for 73 percent of all new cases nationwide, and the fast-spreading variant account for more than 90 percent of new cases in New York and New Jersey, the Midwest, the Southeast, the Gulf Coast, and the Northwest.

The nation is currently averaging 148,384 new cases daily over the past week, a 23 percent increase from two weeks ago.

Confirmed Omicron cases increased by 19 percent day-over-day, up to 1,781 as of Wednesday morning from 1,485 on Tuesday, but that number represents only the tiny fraction of infections that are DNA sequenced.

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Those exempt from the mandate include grocery stores, pharmacies, retail shops and museums. According to Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio, those establishments are places where 'people normally pass through more quickly and keep their masks on.' 

Bowser has said that religious congregations are exempt and she is considering an exemption for some fast food businesses. 

Businesses will have to check customers' vaccine cards or a printout, photograph or app showing their COVID status.   

Bowser added that proof of a negative COVID test will not be allowed in lieu of vaccination, though she may change that rule if conditions improve.   

'I don't make any of these types of decisions lightly, because I don't like Big Brother intruding on my life. [There are] times when the government needs to make decisions for the whole society,' Bowser said. 

'Mandates have the ability to help people who are not vaccinated to become vaccinated, and that is a huge public health benefit.' 

© Provided by Daily Mail

Washington reported 1,524 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, once again setting a single-day record.

The city is now posting a higher seven-day average of new cases per capita than any state in the nation. 

As of Wednesday, 68.3 percent of Washingtonians are fully vaccinated, above the national average. 

Bowser also plans to sign legislation that the City Council passed Tuesday that will require coronavirus vaccination for children in public schools next school year. 

'This adds to the safety of our schools,' Bowser said.  


Video: Vaccines Required To Enter Hoboken Bars For SantaCon (CBS New York)

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Famed NYC restaurateur Danny Meyer will require BOOSTER shots for ALL staff and diners at his upscale Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe and Manhattan - the first in the country to do so

The man who brought you Shake Shack is demanding that you to get your COVID-19 booster shot if you want to eat in his restaurants.

New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer, who founded the burger palace and the more upscale Michelin starred Gramercy Tavern, announced on CNBC on Wednesday that in order to beat back the current infection wave all diners, staffers and new employees will have to get a booster jab if they want to eat at three of his Manhattan restaurants. 

From January 1, all workers and diners wanting to eat indoors at 18 of Meyer's restaurants, including, Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe and Manhattan in New York City and Anchovy Social in Washington DC, will need to show proof of their booster vaccination. 

It's not clear whether Meyer will mandate booster shots for indoor dining at Shake Shack, which he founded and where he serves on the board, and his hospitality group, Union Square Hospitality, has not responded to a DailyMail.com request for comment. 

'Hospitality is a team sport — it's kind of like putting on a play on Broadway or playing a basketball game,' Meyer told CNBC earlier on Wednesday.

'If you can't field a full healthy team, you're going to have to hit pause. ... We'll see how that goes.' 

Meyer tweeted his support for the vaccine booster - and Mayor Bill de Blasio's $100 incentive to get the shot © Provided by Daily Mail Meyer tweeted his support for the vaccine booster - and Mayor Bill de Blasio's $100 incentive to get the shot From January 1, all workers and diners wanting to eat indoors at Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe and Manhatta will need to show proof of their booster vaccination © Provided by Daily Mail From January 1, all workers and diners wanting to eat indoors at Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe and Manhatta will need to show proof of their booster vaccination

Danny Meyer's 18 restuarants will require proof of booster shot for indoor dining 

Union Square Hospitality Group owns 17 restaurants in New York City and one in Washington DC. All will require proof of a booster dose from January 1.

NEW YORK CITY 

Gramercy Tavern

Union Square Cafe

Manhattan

Blue Smoke

Caffe Marchio

Cedric's at the Shed

Ci Siamo

Daily Provisions

Intersect by Lexus

Loball

Maialino

Maialino Mare

Marta 

The Modern

Porchlight

Tacocina

Vini E Fritti

WASHINGTON DC

 Anchovy Social

New York City recorded 10,991 new daily infections on Tuesday, down slightly from 11,391 on Monday.  

The prevalence of Omicron has increased by at least five-fold in a fortnight in New York. Of all the PCR tests sequenced for the week ending December 4, 2.2 per cent were of the Omicron variant, while that number leapt to 11.1 per cent on December 18. 

The new strain now accounts for 73 percent of U.S. cases and 93 percent of infections in New York, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Despite the rising number of cases, the president of one of New York's largest hospital systems has said that the Omicron surge is not straining his facilities - just 2.1 per cent of COVID patients currently hospitalized across the Empire State.

'We're doing very, very well, very manageable. There's no crisis,' Michael Dowling, the CEO of Northwell Health, told CNN's John Berman on Tuesday.

He noted that there are now 460 patients in its 23 hospitals, which is less than 10 percent of its overall capacity. But at the same time last year, during COVID's second wave, the hospital system saw nearly 1,000 cases. And during the first wave, it had 3,500 patients suffering severe side effects from the virus.   

New York City already requires that indoor diners show their proof of vaccination at the door, though many do not enforce the rule.

Meyers is hoping to avoid shutting down again, as was required in 2020 during the initial surge of the Coronavirus. 

He had to furlough or layoff 1000 workers from Shake Shack despite having taken $10 million in PPP money. He eventually returned the cash after an outcry. 

Others in his business have not been so lucky to be able to pick and choose their patrons and staff. 

DailyMail.com has identified at least 50 restaurants that have closed across the five boroughs of New York.

On Saturday Raoul's Restaurant in Soho posted on its social media letting patrons know that 'due to Covid exposure we are closing immediately, and will remain closed for the next week. We plan to reopen on the 27th of December.'

On Saturday Raoul's Restaurant in Soho posted on its social media letting patrons know that 'due to Covid exposure we are closing immediately, and will remain closed for the next week. We plan to reopen on the 27th of December.'
© Provided by Daily Mail

Broadway shows and the iconic Radio City Music Hall Christmas productions has cancelled their high-kicking Rockettes performances for the rest of the winter. 

'At this point, the science has changed,' Meyer told CNBC. 'What has been a little bit tougher has been watching this crushing wave of omicron sweeping through New York City and certainly through the country.' 

In the spring Meyer required all his staffers to be vaccinated hoping that it would encourage diners return after a year of COVID-19 restrictions that nearly devastated the food service industry. Some workers walked away, a trend that many in the food service industry have seen. 

'Hospitality is a team sport — it's kind of like putting on a play on Broadway or playing a basketball game,' the restaurateur added. 'If you can't field a full healthy team, you're going to have to hit pause. ... We'll see how that goes,' he said. 

 New York City, once again, finds itself at the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.

'Throughout this entire wave that we're now going through — while we've absolutely seen a ton of breakthrough cases throughout society, throughout New York City, and even in our restaurants — so far not one of the cases that our staff members have encountered have been more than mild symptoms,' Meyer told CNBC.

After vaccination cards became a requirement for diners to return to eating indoors in New York City, there was a strong backlash against the restriction and even violence.

In September, three Texas women looking to eat at Carmine's in Midtown got into fisticuffs with the restaurant's hostess when she would not allow their friend to join them because he could not produce proof of vaccination. 

It's hard to say if Meyer's bold move will catch on in the New York restaurant world. Many eateries are currently understaffed because workers who left during the height of the pandemic have not returned. The unemployment rate in the hospitality still outpaces all other sectors in the city.

Meanwhile, Meyers went on social media to highlight the $100 payout that New York City is offering for anyone who gets a booster.

He stressed that safety and testing is key to his operation. 

'We're accessing all kinds of testing for our team because we believe that the minute anybody has a symptom, that if they could do that for themselves at home, certainly we could do that at the restaurant,' he told CNBC. 'We think that that's going to have a great deal of effect in terms of stemming the wave.' 

Union Square Restaurant Group, Meyer's umbrella company, did not immediately return a request for more information. 

NY hospitals boss says COVID Omicron surge ISN'T straining facilities 

The president of one of New York's largest hospital systems has said that the Omicron surge is not straining his facilities, with just 2.1 per cent of COVID patients currently hospitalized across the Empire State.

'We're doing very, very well, very manageable. There's no crisis,' Michael Dowling, the CEO of Northwell Health, told CNN's John Berman on Tuesday.

He noted that there are now 460 patients in its 23 hospitals, which is less than 10 percent of its overall capacity. But at the same time last year, during COVID's second wave, the hospital system saw nearly 1,000 cases. And during the first wave, it had 3,500 patients suffering severe side effects from the virus.  

'So when you look at the numbers today, they're relatively modest,' Dowling said, adding that the numbers went up after Thanksgiving and they are expecting more cases following the holiday season.

'But it's all manageable, we are able to deal with it,' he said, 'and I think it's time for people to be a little more calm and rational.

'While the positivity rate in the community is increasing, that does not immediately mean there's an increase in hospitalizations,' Dowling explained, adding that 80 percent of those hospitalized with COVID at Northwell facilities are not vaccinated.

( © Provided by Daily Mail (

He spoke as outgoing NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that the current hospitalization rate for COVID patients stood at just 2.1 per cent. The prevalence of Omicron has increased by at least five-fold in a fortnight in New York. Of all the PCR tests sequenced for the week ending December 4, 2.2 per cent were of the Omicron variant, while that number leapt to 11.1 per cent on December 18. 

Earlier this morning, the NYPD announced that eight percent of its staff - over 2,700 cops - had called in sick, more than 300 of whom have tested positive for COVID.

The surge in virus cases has also prompted a run on tests, with popular urgent care center CityMD announcing it would shutter 13 of its locations due to overwhelming demand.  Lines of up to six hours have formed outside many sites, with results that are supposed to be delivered within 48 hours now taking four or five days. 

As of Monday, 4,328 COVID patients were hospitalized throughout New York State, with about every 20 out of 100,000 COVID patients needing to be hospitalized as the state broke its own record for the fourth straight day and logged 23,391 cases in 24 hours on Monday evening– about 1,000 more than the 22,478 cases reported the day before.

That record is widely-expected to be broken again when the latest infection figures are announced later on Wednesday. Around 93 per cent of new COVID diagnoses in New York and neighboring New Jersey are now being caused by the Omicron variant, even though the first US case of the new strain was only reported December 1. 

In New York City, there has been a seven-day average of new coronavirus cases nearly doubling over the past week, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

On Wednesday, there were 3,794 confirmed COVID cases on Wednesday, with a positivity rate of 6.96 percent, as nearly 80 percent of residents have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 71.4 percent are fully vaccinated.   

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