On Thursday, mayor Eric Adams announced New York City's private-sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be reversed specifically for performers and athletes in local venues. As it pertains to Major League Baseball, the reversal will allow unvaccinated New York Yankees and New York Mets players to play home games in the upcoming 2022 season.
Adams had previously maintained that athletes wouldn't get special treatment. Until now in the NBA, unvaccinated Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving was notably ineligible to play home games during the 2021-22 season. Yankees and Mets players without COVID-19 vaccinations were set to face the same fate until Thursday's announcement, which came two weeks ahead of Opening Day.
Players on opposing teams who are not vaccinated were still eligible to play in New York City under the previous mandate, and Irving was even recently allowed to attend home games, just not play in them.
"This is about putting New York City-based performance on a level playing field," Adams said Thursday. "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. My medical professionals said we're at a different place. We have to wait until we're at a place, we're at a low area and we could re-examine some of the mandates. We're here today. Currently, only non-residents are exempt under this executive order. We're expanding it to residents of New York City.
"Unimaginable, we were treating our performers differently because they lived and played for home teams. It's not acceptable. This exemption has put our sports teams at a self-imposed disadvantage, but this new order will help boost our economy."
Irving has played on the road since January for the Nets this season, and there have been calls to reverse the private-sector mandate for weeks.
It is not known exactly which Yankees and Mets players are unvaccinated, though it has been strongly implied that Aaron Judge is among them. Judge ducked around a question regarding his vaccination status earlier in spring training.
"I'm so focused on just getting through the first game of spring training," Judge said. "I think we'll cross that bridge whenever the time comes. But right now, so many things could change. I'm not really too worried about that right now."
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, MLB and the MLBPA agreed players who are unable to play due to vaccine mandates can be placed on the restricted list. They will not be paid or accrue service time.
Former Marlins president David Samson discussed NYC dropping its mandate on Thursday's Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
Opening Day is April 7. The Yankees open the season at home against the Red Sox. The Mets open the season with a seven-game road trip through Washington and Philadelphia. Their first home game is April 15 against the Diamondbacks.
Unvaccinated players will still not be allowed into Canada to play the Blue Jays. Canada is not accepting unvaccinated international visitors and there are no indications the policy will change anytime soon.