Greenfield: The Only Way for Unvaccinated Workers to Work in NY is to Become Artists
“We make history in New York City. We lead the nation with the strongest vaccine mandate anywhere,” Mayor Bill de Blasio declared in a final blow to residents on the way out the door.
The nation’s most unpopular mayor did indeed unleash the strongest vaccine mandate anywhere that covers everyone from drivers to babysitters. Like the virus itself, the mandate that Bill de Blasio issued in haste turned out much stronger than he had anticipated.
Banning “unvaccinated workers” from any workplace turned out to cover just about everything.
Or almost everything. In his infinite mercy, Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate says that unvaccinated “workers may enter for a quick and limited purpose even if they have not shown the required proof of vaccination” such as “using the bathroom.”
The Department of Health does not specify how long they’re allowed to be in the bathroom before Bill de Blasio starts hammering on the door to demand their vaccine passport.
Vehicles being used for business purposes are workplaces. Or as the New York City Department of Health states, “Businesses may not allow any unvaccinated workers to come to their workplace. A workplace is considered any location — including a vehicle — where you work in the presence of at least one other person.” That was bad news for deliveries in a city already struggling with supply chain shortages. The only drivers exempt from the De Blasio vaccine mandate have to drive alone. That means last mile deliveries can still keep going.
But supplier deliveries being made to stores have suddenly become much more difficult.
As usual, this sort of arrangement benefits Amazon with its huge fleet of subcontractors doing individual last mile deliveries, while crushing what’s left of New York City’s retail sector. It’s bad news for supermarkets that working and middle class residents rely on, but won’t affect the hipster elites who use grocery delivery services anyway and don’t care about street level retail.
Supermarkets die and Big Tech adds another few hundred billion to its valuations.
But the vaccine mandate includes residential buildings as workplaces. In a city with one of the highest rates of apartment dwellers outside Tokyo, much of the city is in reach of the mandate.
And that’s where the vaccine mandate is proving devastating even to the hipster elites because it not only affects the employees working for the buildings, but anyone hired by the residents.
That includes babysitters, housekeepers, plumbers, painters, exterminators, and nannies.
As December 27th approached, building managers were unsure of just how broad the vaccine mandate might be. Some renters began receiving emails ordering them to show proof of vaccination. Residents panicked fearing that they would be banned from entering their own homes unless they had proof of vaccination, not just once, but every single day.
The De Blasio mandate does warn that, “businesses may check each worker’s proof of vaccination before they enter the workplace each day. They must keep a record of each verification.”
Lawyers quickly got involved and clarified that renters were not workers. But nearly everyone else entering a building was a worker. Could those same Amazon delivery men and women enter a building to drop off a package without having to show their vaccine papers?
If Amazon, FedEx, UPS, Doordash, UberEats, and every other sort of delivery worker has to show a vaccine passport before making a delivery, that would eat up half their workday.
More lawyers, drawn by the profitable smell of new government regulations, swarmed and agreed that Amazon and Big Tech shouldn’t be rudely inconvenienced in that manner.
But then what about the dogwalkers? Do they have to show their vaccine passports each time they walk a dog to keep Spot, Rover, and Amadeus safe from both COVID and fleas?
Dogwalkers, without whom the neglectful pet owners of Park Slope couldn’t manage, were exempted. But nearly every sort of other worker is still under the shadow of the mandate.
The mandate declared that “workers in New York City who perform in-person work or interact with the public in the course of business must show proof they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.”
That meant anyone hiring a babysitter had to check their vaccine papers, and make a record of having checked them, or risk fines of $1,000 for each violation. Getting Susie down the block to watch your kids after she comes home from school just became a whole lot more complicated.
The price of a vaccinated nanny had already soared through the roof even before the new mandate. “If you’re making under $80,000 right now as a mom, you’re going to end up giving your nanny your salary,” one agency headobserved.
The nanny state has come for the nannies. De Blasio’s vaccine mandate simultaneously blocks many nannies from working and significantly raises the cost of vaccinated nannies. That forces New Yorkers to either defy the law, or forge vaccine records and hope that they don’t get caught.
That’s what a police state looks like.
Beyond nannies, the elderly are likely to lose access to physical therapists and other kinds of in-home therapists, but the NBA and Saturday Night Live, as usual, are exempt from the rules.
While the vaccine mandate applies to babysitters and therapists, to workers unloading crates of cucumbers, and even to independents renting a WeWork space, it doesn’t apply to celebrities.
Or as the order states, “non-City residents who are performing artists, college or professional athletes, or individuals accompanying such performing artists or college or professional athletes.”
Science, of course, tells us that NBA players and SNL guest stars can’t spread the virus.
Residency isn’t actually the issue because the vaccine mandate FAQ sneers, ”Do I need to verify proof of vaccination for workers who do not live in New York City? Yes, the requirement is specific to New York City workplaces, and where the worker lives is not relevant to the order.”
Unless the worker is a celebrity. Then their residency is suddenly very relevant to the order.
“Are there any exceptions for workers in certain industries, or whose work is essential to my business? To best protect all workers, there are no exceptions for workers based on their industry or job duties,” the FAQ barks at ordinary employers and workers.
There are no exceptions for workers in industries… unless they throw a ball or tell jokes.
That has to stick in the craw of any judge with an ounce of conscience who owns a law book.
The double standard here is legally and morally untenable. If you’re a plumber in Westchester, you must show your papers, but if you’re Bruce Springsteen’s roadie you’re exempt.
The class distinctions here perpetrated by the advocates of equity are blatantly obvious.
And the obvious answer is for unvaccinated workers to become performing artists.
The relevant orders, including Emergency Executive Order No. 316, don’t actually define what a “performing artist” is, but do exempt them from wearing face masks “while performing” and from vaccine papers.
Why can’t a plumber be an artist? And why can’t fixing a sink be their performance?
In an era of profound bad taste where anything is art, from mutilated animals to a woman staring at her audience to a golden toilet, why can’t the art of fixing toilets also be performance art?
What the art world claims is “transgressive art” rarely is, but workers defying the authorities by keeping society running would be the ultimate in transgressive performance art.
It’s so transgressive, it would have to be banned.