New York-based performers and athletes who play for New York’s home teams will be exempt from the city’s vaccination mandate for private businesses, New York City mayor Eric Adams announced in a press conference at Citi Field on Thursday. This means that unvaccinated Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving will be eligible to play in home games, starting with Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center.
Adams, who had previously stated that “it would send the wrong message” to give Irving an exemption when virtually everyone who works in the city is subject to the same mandate and unvaccinated city workers had lost their jobs, framed the issue as an expansion of a previous exemption. This decision will also affect unvaccinated members of the New York Yankees and New York Mets, who are two weeks away from Major League Baseball’s Opening Day.
“This is about putting New York city-based performers on a level playing field,” Adams said. “Day 1 when I was mayor, I looked at the rule that stated hometown players had an unfair disadvantage for those who were coming to visit. And immediately I felt we needed to look at that, but my medical professionals said, ‘Eric, we’re at a different place. We have to wait until we’re at a place where we’re at a low area and we can reexamine some of the mandates.’ We’re here today.”