Earlier this week, Mayor Eric Adams announced that New York City-based athletes and performers would be exempt from the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Adams announced the news at Citi Field in a press conference attended by some of the biggest names on the Yankees and Mets. While Adams’ decision has drawn praise from athletes and entertainment managers, it has drawn sharp criticism from union members who are against mandates.

Adams Explains Reasons Behind Lifting Mandate

In announcing the news, Adams said that the mandate put the city’s athletes and performers at an unfair disadvantage. Noting that the policy was started by his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, Adams said that while unvaccinated home players could not participate in sporting events, away players who were unvaccinated could still play in New York games. Pointing out that this policy gave away teams an unfair advantage, Adams argued that by lifting the mandate, he is making games more competitive and leveling the playing field. Among the athletes who will now be able to play in New York games is Kyrie Irving of the Nets, who previously could only play in away games. Despite lifting the mandate, Adams says that he believes everyone should get vaccinated against COVID.

Adams’ decision was met with much applause from those in the sports world. Sandy Alderson, who works as president of the Mets, told reporters that lifting the mandate for players will be a boost for New York’s economy and further help the city recover from the pandemic. Alderson further added that the Mets organization fully supports vaccination and that the vast majority of the team’s players are inoculated against COVID.

Unions Unhappy with Adams’ Decision

While athletes and performers remain grateful for Adams’ plan to life the mandate in their professions, union heads say that it represents a double standard. For the past several months, unions representing police officers, teachers, and emergency first responders have been critical of New York’s vaccine mandate. Some of the organizations have even brought litigation against the city for firing workers who failed to comply with the mandate. Pat Lynch of the Patrolman’s Benevolence Society railed against Adams for lifting the mandate for athletes and performers. In a written statement, Lynch argued that if the mandate is not necessary for celebrities, it is also not necessary for police officers who are working diligently each day to protect the public.

Harry Nespolli of the Municipal Labor Committee adds that the city should offer a way for workers who lost their jobs due to noncompliance with the mandate to reenter the city’s workforce. Nespolli further contends that Adams should not discriminate against essential workers in steering the city’s COVID policy.