Expect Covid and the pandemic to take precedence at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Issues of vaccine access and the talk of widespread immunization may just cause more than talks to issue thanks to soon to be ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio.
U.N. chief Antonio Guterres stressed that he cannot ask world leaders to show they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, after New York City officials said proof should be required for anyone entering the U.N. General Assembly Hall.
New York City has the most restrictive COVID-19 rules thanks to de Blasio. People need to be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination to enjoy indoor activities like dining, concerts, movies and convention centers. The UNGA is held indoors at the U.N. General Assembly Hall, which qualifies as a convention center, according to a September 9 letter from de Blasio’s Office to International Affairs.
New York City’s health commissioner informed the General Assembly president-elect Abdulla Shahid that UNGA would be covered by the local law requiring proof of vaccination for indoor venues.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who is not vaccinated but has antibodies from a COVID-19 infection last year. Announced he will attend UNGA in person while defying the New York City vaccine requirement.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called the requirement discriminatory: and said he was surprised and disappointed by the idea of requiring proof of vaccination to enter the General Assembly Hall. He requested an urgent meeting of the general assembly to discuss a move. By preventing delegates to access the hall was a “clear violation of the UN charter”.
Secretary General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric the attendee’s are on the honor system. By swiping a badge to enter the General Assembly Hall, delegates attest that they are fully vaccinated, that they have not tested positive for COVID‑19 in the last 10 days [and] have no symptoms.
De Blasio announced New York City will open a pop-up testing and vaccination site at U.N. headquarters where attendees can get free COVID-19 tests and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Technically the U.N. headquarters in Manhattan is international territory and is not subject to U.S. laws.