Kids 5 to 11 will soon need to be vaxxed to dine in NYC


Parents who planned to dine out with their kids in the Big Apple on Monday were shocked to find out that 5- to 11-year-olds can’t get into restaurants without being vaccinated against the coronavirus — and the rule is about to get even tougher.

Erik St. Martin, a software engineer from Florida, 38, said he and his daughter Allie, 7, were turned away from the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square because she hasn’t gotten any shots.

“We are in New York for another week and it’s going to be a real pain not being allowed to eat at restaurants,” St. Martin said.

“We didn’t know about the vaccine mandate for kids when we booked our family holiday months ago,” he said.

Costa Rican tourists Jose Santana, 37, and Daniela Alfaro, 36, said they were forced to tear up their itinerary — and may even cut short their visit to the city with children Victoria, 9, and Marcelo, 5.

The Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square.
The Times Square Hard Rock Cafe is one of many restaurants forced to turn away customers because their children have not received any COVID-19 vaccinations.
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

“We are vaccinated but our children are not because in Costa Rica young kids cannot get vaccinated yet,” Santana said.

“All we can do is outdoor activities like walking around Central Park and Times Square.”

He added: “It is very frustrating. We were supposed to be in New York for six more days but we are going to try and shorten our trip.”

Children wearing masks sit in Times Square.
Unvaccinated tourists are left with little to do in New York City under the mandate update, with one father saying all he can do with his family is walk around Central Park and Times Square.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

An update to the “Key to NYC” vaccination mandate that Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month required that all children 12 and up be fully vaccinated — with either two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer formulations, or one of Johnson & Johnson’s — to enter restaurants, gyms and movie theaters or other entertainment venues as of Dec. 14.

Five- to 11-year-olds only needed one dose but will need to be fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.

At the Margaritaville Resort Times Square island-themed eatery, host Christina Myers said she’d turned away more than 20 would-be diners by midday.

Margaritaville Resort Times Square host Christina Myers stands at the front desk.
Margaritaville Resort Times Square host Christina Myers said foreigners are confused when she tells them they and their unvaccinated children are not allowed inside.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

“They can eat outside, but who is going to eat outside with 5-and 6-year-old kids in this weather?” she said. Temperatures in the city topped out at 38 degrees in Central Park on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

“Foreigners don’t understand why we had to turn them away. Even people from Union City in New Jersey were confused.”

Chris McCormack, who manages the Brooklyn Diner in Times Square, said more than 40 hungry people were denied entry but said the loss in receipts would pay off in the long run.

“No business wants restrictions but most of my business comes from the theaters and they can’t stay open unless everyone is vaccinated,” McCormack said.

Havana Central near Times Square.
Starting December 29, children five and over will need to be fully vaccinated to dine indoors in New York City. Previous mandates only required them to have one dose.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

Queens mom Anna Nowak, 35, said she only learned about the rules when she brought her 5-year-old son to Manhattan on Monday — the same day de Blasio’s private-sector vaccine mandate went into effect.

“We can’t go anywhere now because we’re not going to vaccinate our son,” she said.

“We will look for restaurants in New Jersey and Long Island where we can eat as a family.”

Nowak added: “If we need to buy food today, we’ll get it to go.”

A 10-year-old girl gets the COVID-19 vaccine as her mother holds her hand.
Despite the update to the mandate, some parents said they’d refuse to get their child vaccinated and would rather order takeout than dine indoors.
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

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