Catholic, Orthodox Jewish New Yorkers Drop Lawsuit After Vaccine Restrictions Lifted

The group called it an “unprecedented abuse of power” by city leadership.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 30: A city-operated mobile pharmacy advertises the COVID-19 vaccine in a Brooklyn neighborhood on July 30, 2021 in New York City. Due to the rapidly spreading Delta variant, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the city will require all city workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19 and the city will now pay any individual $100 to get the shot. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A group of Orthodox Jewish New Yorkers and a Catholic businessman have dropped their lawsuit against the city’s vaccine passport program after the restrictions were lifted last week.

The group of five Orthodox Jews, which include a rabbi, along with one Catholic, filed a federal lawsuit against New York Democratic Mayor Eric Adams and his health commissioner last month over the city’s COVID-19 “vaccine passport” program, dubbed “Key to NYC.”

The group called the vaccine passports “discriminatory and unconstitutional” and said it was an “unprecedented abuse of power” by city leadership.

On Friday last week, the mayor announced the suspension of the “Key to NYC” program and removed the indoor mask mandates for city public schools, saying, “New York City is back, and vaccinations are why we’re back.”

“New Yorkers should be getting out and enjoying our amazing city. The fight may not be over, but we’re clearly winning the war. We are open for business and New York City has its groove back,” Adams said.

The “Key to NYC” program required indoor venues including restaurants, gyms, and entertainment areas to check for proof of vaccination before allowing customers inside.

The lifting of the restrictions comes as the plaintiffs were preparing for a hearing on their preliminary injunction request.

“This is great news,” said one of the plaintiffs, a member of New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community, according to their attorneys at the Thomas More Society.

The vaccine passport program, which was begun under former Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and continued by Adams’ administration, was “an absolutely unprecedented ban on access to both public and private premises comprising virtually the whole of social life unless vaccinated,” said Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara.

“The resulting ‘vaccine apartheid’ was a blatant violation of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights,” Ferrara continued. “Under this regime, out of town sports teams and entertainers did not need to be vaccinated in order to perform in packed venues, while our clients could not dine in a half empty restaurant or visit a museum. Local sports stars could play away games without being vaccinated, but not home games. Unvaccinated children could participate in school programs in numerous facilities, but not after school or on the weekend with their own parents.”

“Utterly ridiculous,” the attorney added. “Of all the bizarre, pseudo-scientific restrictions imposed on people to ruin their lives in the name of stopping the spread COVID-19 – a totally failed endeavor – this one takes the prize.”

Even though New York City is relaxing the vaccine passport and masking rules, businesses can still require proof of vaccination or face masks inside if they desire.

The city faced criticism for its policies on mandatory vaccines, especially from New Yorkers who were reluctant to take the jab over health concerns. Black New Yorkers in particular expressed hesitancy to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, many New Yorkers have fled the city since the start of the pandemic, migrating especially to states with fewer pandemic restrictions like Texas and Florida.

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