New York City will begin exempting athletes and performers from the city’s vaccine mandates in an announcement expected Thursday from NYC Mayor Eric Adams, a move that will free up unvaccinated basketball players, namely Kyrie Irving, to play in the Big Apple – even as ordinary stadium workers are still required to be vaccinated to work in the same building.
Thanks to the new rules, Irving, star point guard for the Nets and a vaccine holdout who has refused the jab despite having missed more than two-thirds of the games this season thanks to vax rules, will now be able to play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (Ironically, Irving was allowed to watch while sitting the packed Barclays Center after the stadium lifted vaccine mandates for game attendees, but was barred from actually being on the court due to the city's employee vaccine mandate.)
But stadium workers, like the janitors who clean the floors and the concessions employees who pour the drinks, still must be vaccinated per a standing NYC order stating: "Workers in New York City who perform in-person work or interact with the public in the course of business must show proof that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Businesses may not allow any unvaccinated workers to work at their workplace."
The city has already fired more than 1,400 city employees for refusing to get the vaccine.
Adams’ 180-switch on player vaccination mandates comes after public pressure mounted for him to exempt performers, lest Irving’s absence cost the Nets a shot at the playoffs this season.