New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday formally announced an executive order excusing professional athletes and entertainers from the city's private worker vaccine mandate, effective immediately, ABC 7 and NBC 4 New York report.
The announcement arrives as "NBA and NHL playoff races heat up, and as Major League Baseball prepares for opening day," ABC 7 writes. It also means that famously unvaccinated basketball player Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets will be allowed to play home games rather than sitting out.
The official decision, announced at Citi Field, "will help our economy recover in a real way," Adams said, per ABC 7. The mayor noted he felt the current rule was unfair to the city's athletes and performers since any unvaccinated visiting player or star was still allowed to work. It was a "self-imposed competitive disadvantage."
"I'm mayor of the city and I"m going to make some tough choices. People are not going to agree with some of them," Adams said. "I was not elected to follow. I was not elected to be fearful but to be fearless. I must move this city forward."
The mayor's decision quickly drew some backlash, with critics concerned the rules shift benefitted only the city's rich and powerful.
Per NBC 4, Staten Island Councilman Joe Borelli called the order "appalling. We are firing our own employees but allowing exemptions for the fancy ones."
"If the mandate isn't necessary for famous people, then it's not necessary for the cops who are protecting our city in the middle of a crime crisis," complained Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.
Executive order aside, NYC's current mandate bars unvaccinated workers from the workplace. Adams' Thursday decision had been expected.