Covid Normal, Part 3: USA

The United States has been laying down the parameters of its post-lockdown normal over the past two weeks. The core premise is the promise of an unrestricted life for the vaccinated. On the flipside, the unvaccinated bear the onus of proof in demonstrating they are not Covid-positive.

On Tuesday, New York City announced a “key to the city” proof of vaccination pass. The pass will be required for access to gyms, restaurants, cinemas and the like.

The change followed private businesses taking the lead last week. A major NYC restaurant business, Union Square Hospitality Group, announced last Thursday it is requiring anyone who wishes to dine inside to be vaccinated.

“When we learned about the degree that the delta variant was being transmitted, especially amongst unvaccinated people, we said we have to do something for our staff and guests,” said the company’s CEO.

The initiative is the equivalent of regulations already in place in Germany. The company’s employees must all also be vaccinated. 

Last month, the Mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio, announced all municipal workers, some 340,000 people, will have to either get vaccinated, or have a weekly Covid-19 test. The announcement was welcomed by, amongst others, the city’s teachers’ union.

New York City has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, with approximately 71% of the population having received at least one shot.

A similar policy has been put into effect by the Governor of California, Gary Newsom.

Governor Newsom’s description of Covid in 2021 as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” echoes the comments in mid-July of CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. 

According to one New York news source, 98% of hospitalised Covid cases in the city are unvaccinated. A similar report in Alabama found that 96% of Covid-19 deaths were unvaccinated. 

Yet the changes being led in New York and California are not progressing unopposed. On the emerging right-wing of this debate, Florida’s Governor made an order blocking schools from mandating face masks indoors.

Working on the assumption that whatever takes place in Europe and America eventually makes its way to Australia, these rules are most likely a taste of the future for Australians, at least once Covid-19 vaccines are finally made available to all.

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