STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Just a few months after catered affairs were “back to normal” since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shuttered all New York venues, city dining establishments will soon be required to make sure guests at indoor parties are vaccinated.
Mayor Bill De Blasio and city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi announced Tuesday that many indoor businesses, including all dining facilities, bars and fitness centers, would need to check patrons’ and employees’ vaccine status before they enter.
This means all attendees of indoor weddings, Sweet 16s, bridal or baby showers, bar mitzvahs, proms, etc. at area catering halls and other establishments have to be vaccinated.
While the new vaccine mandate goes into effect Aug. 16, enforcement actions won’t take place until Sept. 13, de Blasio said on Tuesday.
PREVIOUS COVID MANDATES
Catering hall owners have had a myriad of regulations to deal with during the coronavirus pandemic. After large parties and dancing were banned by New York state for affairs during the shutdown, catering facilities were only allowed to reopen earlier this year with capacity limits and COVID testing mandates. After those regulations were lifted by the state in May, parties have been taking place at the borough’s catering halls.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was instituting the majority of mandates during the pandemic, has since passed the “rule-making” duties onto individual counties across the state. That gives de Blasio the executive power to institute coronavirus mandates.
CATERING HALL OWNERS REACT
While the new vaccine mandate may seem extreme to some, many of Staten Island’s catering hall owners say they will comply with all mandates, which means only vaccinated people can attend.
“We will, as we have done through the COVID pandemic, follow all legal regulations dictated to us by the New York City Department of Health,” said John Scalia, owner of the Historic Old Bermuda Inn, Charleston. “We are proud to have never been cited for any violation from any agency through this trying time.”
Lois and Richard Nicotra, who own the Hilton Garden Inn and Above Rooftop in Bloomfield, said they are gearing up for the new process.
“The most important focus for us continues to be the health and well-being of our guests and our team. We will continue to comply with recommendations and mandates as we also support our guests in navigating new guidance so they can host their celebrations and events,” said the Nicotras in a statement.
“When we learned late last week that esteemed restauranteur Danny Meyer was instituting a vaccination requirement ahead of New York City’s announcement, we felt that the vaccination requirement couldn’t be far off. It is time to make memories with friends and loved ones,” they added.
The Nicotras said they hope neighboring states adopt similar approaches to vaccine mandates for catering facilities.
“We only hope that surrounding states are equitable in their approach, so that New York City venues and eateries don’t lose business, and so that this approach is effective in terms of public health,” they said.
However, many Island-based caterers said they fear the loss of business at a time when they are still trying to recoup financially from the pandemic shutdown.
“This is going to be devastating, again. We were already devastated for 18 months of zero business and zero income,” said Chef Lou Marfoglio, owner of Daddino’s Grand Ballroom at Historical Colony Hall in Sea View.