Mask mandates, vaccine proof is on the rise — but not everyone is on board
Masks mandates are on the rise as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States — amplifying divisions between supporters of anti-coronavirus protocols and opponents who emphasize personal freedom.
On Thursday at midnight, L.A. County enacted an outdoor mask mandate for large events with over 10,000 attendees, including concerts, festivals, and sporting venues — regardless of vaccination status. This comes after the L.A. County Public Health Department reported nearly 2,500 new COVID-19 cases earlier this week.
Los Angeles, which recently reinstated an indoor mask mandate for most public spaces, has been aggressive in its pandemic approach — with other major cities following suit. Washington, D.C., Chicago, and San Diego have enacted similar indoor masking requirements of their own, while New York City just began requiring vaccination proof for key indoor activities.
On the East Coast, New York City hosted a star-studded outdoor concert on Saturday with Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson, Paul Simon, and others performing live in Central Park. The free concert required proof of vaccination to attend but, given the fact that it was also outdoors, masks were optional.
The Big Apple was the first major city to require vaccination proof in order to enter bars, gyms, restaurants, and concerts. Broadway, which is set to reopen next month after over one and a half years of shutdown, will require both proof of vaccination, along with masks.
Resistance grows as mandates take effect
Still, questions remain over how city officials plan to enforce the mandate with black-market alternatives springing up online for those unwilling to get a proper vaccination. The more aggressive policies have sharpened the divisions between those willing to comply, and those who are pushing back for a variety of reasons.
In a new Yahoo Finance Twitter poll, over 31,000 users responded to the question, "Would you avoid going to a restaurant if proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for entry?"
80.3% of respondents answered "yes," whereas 19.7% responded "no."
Poll: Would you avoid going to a restaurant if proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for entry?
— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) August 19, 2021
The overwhelming amount of "yes" votes suggests some businesses may see a direct impact to operations as a result of the increased mandates, especially in major cities like NYC, where vaccine proof is already required. Others have pointed out the unintended consequences of such policies that may exclude vaccine-hesitant people of color and the working class.
I'm vaxxed, my entire family is vaxxed, even my 12 yo kids and older.
But, mandates and "passports" aren't OK. I'll go find a place that allows unvaccinated patrons.
— Cynicism The Gathering (@DWokeness) August 19, 2021
Meanwhile, states like Texas and Florida, which have large pockets of unvaccinated individuals, have banned mask mandates — a stark contrast compared to New York and California.
Public school boards have been at the center of the debate, with some defying governor orders by making masks a requirement. In South Florida, officials have made masks mandatory for both students and faculty in the public school system — despite the state's overarching order.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview that, if given the chance, he'd urge Florida Governor Ron Desantis to rethink the mask ban, explaining that "people are willing" to use them.
"If there is an alternative political agenda trying to appeal to some sort of outlier group thinking that's going to advance a person politically I think they're misjudging what people really want," the mayor continued.
Similarly, the Texas public school system saw a big win on masking last week. According to a public health guidance letter penned by the Texas Education Agency on Thursday, enforcement of Governor Greg Abbott’s mask ban will be dropped temporarily due to ongoing court challenges to the ban.
So far in Texas, seven counties and 48 school districts have defied the governor by ordering mask mandates, according to The Associated Press.
Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193
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