New York City mayor Eric Adams announced on Sunday that barring any "surprises," he plans to lift the city's public sector vaccine mandates on March 7. That will not, however, clear the way for Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving to play home games at Barclays Center.
"Additionally, New York City's numbers continue to go down day after day, so, as long as COVID indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week, on Monday, March 7 we will also lift Key2NYC requirements," Adams said in a press release.
That was the statement that the Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving and much of the NBA world had been waiting for -- or so everyone thought. As it turns out, New York City also has a separate private sector vaccine mandate which states, "employers may not allow any unvaccinated employees to report to their physical workplace, unless they have requested and received an accommodation."
In Adams' announcement on Sunday, he said that "all other vaccine mandates in New York City will remain in place at this time as they are, and have been, vital to protecting New Yorkers."
Adams appeared on CNBC Monday and explained that while he wanted Irving back on the floor and "would do anything to get that ring," he was not willing to make an exception for him.
"It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we're telling countless number of New York City employees 'if you don't follow the rules, you won't be able to be employed,'" Adams said.
"Businesses have their vaccine mandate," he added. "City employees have their vaccine mandates. I have to follow the rules. And trust me, I want Kyrie on the court. We are here right now opening our city because of vaccine mandates."
The private sector mandate may be removed in the near future -- ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that there's a sense of "inevitability" that Irving will play home games this season -- but for now it remains in place and Irving will not be able to suit up at Barclays Center after March 7. The NBA does not have a vaccine mandate, and has always stressed that it will follow local and national health guidelines.
The Nets are currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, and 3.5 games behind the sixth-place Boston Celtics for the final guaranteed playoff spot. With Ben Simmons out indefinitely, and Irving still sidelined for home games, it's going to be up to Kevin Durant to help them turn things around. Durant has been sidelined since mid-January with a sprained MCL, but is expected to return to the lineup later this week. The Nets are 24-12 when Durant plays this season and 8-17 without him.