New York City aims to start offering COVID-19 vaccination to tourists.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled this strategy late last week. According to the mayor, the plan is to set up inoculation stations at popular New York City destinations such as Times Square, Central Park, and Brooklyn Bridge Park, offering single doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“[It sends] a positive message to tourists: ‘Come here. It’s safe, it’s a great place to be and we’re going to take care of you,'” de Blasio said. “It’s a show of goodwill. It’s a welcome.”
While de Blasio plans to make vaccines available for tourists, vaccination won’t be mandatory.
New York City is currently awaiting state approval to put this ambitious plan into motion. As of last week, the State Health Department had not received an official plan from de Blasio—but all signs point to that plan being submitted for review soon.
“Meanwhile, we remain focused on vaccine equity and ensuring vaccine access for vulnerable New Yorkers and continue to assess the most effective use of doses as demand stabilizes,” spokesperson Jonah Bruno said (via Global News).
New York City is currently in the midst of reopening and removing all COVID-19 related restrictions. According to de Blasio, the hope is that the city will return to something resembling pre-pandemic normality by July 1.
New York City is not the first region to float the idea of vaccinating tourists. Last month, the government of the Maldives laid out a similar plan. The Maldives’ plan is nicknamed “3V”, for “Visit, Vaccinate, Vacation.”
“The main idea of tourism being open is to provide a reasonably safe tourism with minimum inconvenience,” Maldivian Tourism Minister Abdulla Mausoom told CNBC. “So once the country gets vaccinated, then we will move on to ‘3V’ tourism.
“We have got enough supply for the local population, the resident population, so once that is done … we will have enough.”
If the Maldives and New York City successfully implement this strategy, it’s likely we’ll see even more tourism-reliant destinations follow suit.