Healthcare

Yankees, Mets owners pressed NYC mayor to lift vaccine mandate: report

The heads of New York City baseball teams the Mets and Yankees pressed Mayor Eric Adams (D) to lift the city’s vaccine mandate for performers and athletes ahead of his decision this week to do so,  according to The New York Times.

Yankees president Randy Levine spoke with Adams’s administration about baseball being an outdoor sport and thus less dangerous for the spread of the novel coronavirus, The Times reported. And Steven Cohen, the owner of the Mets, has paid $10,000 per month to a lobbying firm to push on several issues, including COVID-19 protocols.

The Hill has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment, as well as the sports teams involved in this story.

Adams, a Mets fan, told The Times he spoke to sports teams about the issue, but emphasized he had not been lobbied.

“I’ve heard all sides and then I made the final determination, but this is not based on lobbying coming in,” he said.

Adams on Thursday lifted the vaccine mandate for New York City performers, venues and athletes, citing high vaccination rates in the city and lower coronavirus case counts.

Adams said previous rules had created a “self-imposed competitive disadvantage” that was “unfair to New York performers,” including a loophole that allowed performers and athletes from outside the city to perform or play without being vaccinated.

The immunization requirements were implemented last year and drew some scrutiny from athletes like Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who refused to get vaccinated.

The Nets have paid $18,000 per month to a lobbying firm headed by Corey Johnson, a former city councilman who was recently in touch with the Adams team, the Times reported.

Levine with the Yankees and Sandy Alderson, the president of the Mets, both denied to the Times they had lobbied to drop the vaccine mandate.

“I suggested they not only talk to me but to Major League Baseball, which I believe they did,” Levine told the newspaper.

With cases continuing to decline nationwide, many states, counties and municipalities have been dropping some COVID-19 restrictions.

But the decision to drop a vaccine mandate for athletes in New York City, a city with one of the biggest and most lucrative sports attractions in the country, was met with some criticism.

Joe Borelli, a Staten Island city councilman, pointed out that a vaccine mandate still applies for workers who interact with the public.

“What is the rationale for exempting basketball players from the city’s private sector vaccine mandate but not the ushers or janitors in the arena?” he tweeted on Wednesday. “There must be a compelling public interest for subverting the equal application of our laws. What is it?”

Tags COVID-19 Eric Adams Food and Drug Administration mask mandates New York New York City New York Mets New York Yankees Randy Levine Steve Cohen vaccine mandate
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