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State

Cuomo encourages businesses to deny unvaccinated people, bring workers back

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (seated right) and three others
Office of the Governor
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (r) spoke about unvaccinated customers and bringing back workers before business leaders Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo encouraged business owners Wednesday to close their doors to unvaccinated individuals, saying the move could help slow the spread of COVID-19 as indicators for the virus continue to rise.

Cuomo, speaking at an event hosted by a business representative group in New York City, also encouraged private sector employers to bring their workers back to the office by this fall.

"We need people coming back. We can do it safely, we can do it smartly,” Cuomo said. "Say to your workforce, by Labor Day, everyone is back in the office.”

Bringing workers back to the office, Cuomo said, would help spur the state’s economy by boosting foot traffic at restaurants, retail establishments, and other spaces. That ripple effect will be key to the state’s recovery, he said.

"Everyone has to be back to the office ... We need private sector companies to say to their employees we need to be back in the office," Cuomo said. "We need that volume to support the shops, the restaurants, the services."

At the same time, Cuomo encouraged private sector businesses to solely admit vaccinated individuals, saying they’d be on legal ground to do so.

“You can admit vaccinated only people into your establishment. I can argue that it is a smart business practice, because I want to go to a safe restaurant,” Cuomo said. "And it will be an incentive for people to actually get the vaccine. And I urge you all to do it."

The state can’t set a vaccine mandate in the private sector without action by the Legislature, meaning it’s a choice for businesses for the time being. Lawmakers haven’t expressed an interest in returning to Albany to approve new vaccine mandates.

If businesses do move forward with denying entry to unvaccinated individuals, it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

When Radio City Music Hall reopened in New York City this spring, it began to host vaccinated-only events, meaning unvaccinated people weren’t allowed in. Certain shows on Broadway have adopted the same policy.

As of Wednesday, three-quarters of all adults in New York state had received a vaccine, Cuomo said.