Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco has proposed incentivizing local bars that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for patrons to enter without a face mask by waiving operational fees, such as daily parklet costs, for the rest of the year.
“The Delta variant of COVID-19 has proven to be significantly more contagious than any previous strain of the virus and with the number of bars and individuals who come to our city for nightlife activities, Hoboken is uniquely situated to be at an even greater risk of infection,” DeFusco said in a statement.
“Incentivizing businesses that are willing to take additional measures to prevent the spread of this virus, specifically tightly packed bars, is a win for both public health and safety in our City and provides additional relief for small businesses who have struggled to make ends meet over the past year and a half.”
The bars and eateries who do not wish to participate would be subject to the fees as written in Hoboken’s outdoor dining regulations.
Unlike in New York City, no one would be prohibited from entering a business based on their vaccination status, unless new statewide guidelines are issued.
On Friday, Mayor Ravi Bhalla signed an executive order mandating municipal employees to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly coronavirus testing, as HCV first reported.
While the majority of the county doesn’t appear to be following suit right now, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that restaurants, entertainment venues, and gyms will only be available to vaccinated patrons as of August 16th, with enforcement starting on September 13th.
DeFusco also noted that Bhalla would need to act immediately to begin implementing a vaccine incentive program for businesses.
Presenting this as an ordinance would require two city council meetings before the mayor could sign the measure into law, roughly a two-month process.
City spokeswoman Marilyn Baer said that the mayor had not heard of the proposal until today, but we’ll consider any measures that would address vaccination rates.
“The City is happy to consider any and all initiative to increase vaccination rates. However, Mayor Bhalla has not seen Councilman DeFusco’s proposal as the Councilman does not collaborate or share his ideas with the Administration,” she said.
“Mayor Bhalla has been in constant communication with both the State of New Jersey and local businesses on additional ways to keep residents and customers safe; had Councilman DeFusco not spent his time during the height of the pandemic defying CDC guidelines and traveling to hot spot countries, he might have been a part of those conversations.”
The Hoboken City Council’s next meeting is on August 18th at 7 p.m. and will convene via Zoom.