ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he is asking private businesses to ask for proof of COVID-19 vaccination status as condition for admission. This comes as the Delta variant continues to spread across the nation. "I believe it's in your business interest to run a vaccine only establishment," said Cuomo during the news conference Monday morning.
The governor pointed to specific vaccine policy successes at Radio City Music Hall and sports arenas in New York state.
In the past month, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations have more than doubled in New York State, going from roughly 350 to almost 800.
But vaccination rates across the nation are increasing as well, with the CDC reporting at least 700,000 COVID-19 shots were administered for five days in a row.
During Monday's update, the Governor also announced that MTA and Port Authority employees working in New York facilities will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or be tested weekly starting Labor Day. The governor believes this approach should be used for other workers as well, including teachers in New York State.
"I believe school districts should say today: Teachers, vaccine, or test, if you are in a CDC high risk area, the red or the yellow zones, I think they should say that today to the teachers in this current situation. For public facing people who are in a high-risk situation, I say there should be a mandatory vaccine policy and we put one in place in New York State ... it's smart. It's smart. If you are a receiving nurse, receiving doctor and people are coming in from the public and you're dealing with dozens of people, maybe hundreds of people, you should be vaccinated. You should be vaccinated or don't work in a front line position", said Cuomo.
Beginning Labor Day, all @MTA employees & NY employees of the Port Authority will be required to either be vaccinated or get tested weekly.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 2, 2021
Amid the growing threat of the #DeltaVariant, this precaution will help ensure the health & safety of these dedicated workforces.
Vaccination Update:— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 1, 2021
75.4% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 68.6% have completed their vaccine series (Per CDC).
-40,880 doses were administered over past 24 hours
-22,295,684 doses administered to date pic.twitter.com/OayhX7hrpp
Business owners, like Heather Sprague from Beulah's General Store in East Aurora say this is an overstep.
"I will not close my doors ever again, and I will not require customers to show me proof of anything. I think it's a massive overreach of what any government should be asking of a private business," she said.
Sprague says because of the number of mandates proposed on New Yorkers and with the uncertainty once again surrounding school in the fall, the mother of three has made the difficult decision to move her family to Florida.
"Giving them the opportunity to be children and go to school the way I believe is best for them."
Florida's Governor, Ron Desantis has banned mask mandates in schools. Over the weekend, Florida broke a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Sprague says he mother is taking over daily operations at the store, which is open to all customers.
"As a business, as a human being, as an American, that's where I stand. Everybody has choices to make, and that's mine," she said.
One person on Facebook says he would be in favor of showing vaccine proof at schools writing, "I will proudly display my vaccine card on my shirt when I enter an establishment."
Legal analyst Florina Altshiler says it is legal for a private business to require proof of vaccination, if it so chooses.
"A private business can on their own say, you must be vaccinated to enter our business," she said.