Mar 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

NYC lifts vaccine mandate for athletes including Kyrie Irving

Photo of Kyrie Irving in uniform on the court with a basketball in one hand
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets controls the ball against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center on March 15, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Mark Brown via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Eric Adams lifted the vaccine mandate for performers and athletes in local venues, allowing the Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving and some other unvaccinated athletes to return to competing in their hometown.

Why it matters: Adams has sought to roll back COVID restrictions as cases fall in the city. The mandate had led Irving to sit out home games.

  • Adam's move also comes ahead of MLB's Opening Day, clearing the way for unvaccinated players on the Mets and Yankees to play.

Details: Adams said that the mandate put New York teams at a competitive, but he was advised against changing immediately it because transmission was too high.

  • There's much lower transmission in NYC now, Adams said, making it possible for him to make the exception.
  • Adams did note that they were not thinking about hiring back workers who were fired for not complying with the original vaccine mandate.
  • "A large number [of employees] were hired with the understanding they had to be vaccinated," he said. "They understood that and they decided not to do so. So at this time, we're not entertaining it."

What he's saying: "This is about putting New York City based performance on a level playing field," Adams said at a press conference on Thursday.

  • "We were treating our performers differently because they lived and played for home teams? It's not acceptable," Adams added.
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