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Barclays Center institutes vaccination mandate starting Sept. 13, applauded by many (but not all). How many workers will leave? Arena language re masks changes. Risks remain.

The Barclays Center has updated its COVID-19 policy, now requiring all workers, and guests 12 and over, to be vaccinated, stating, "In accordance with the mandate recently announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Barclays Center will soon be requiring all employees and guests to be fully vaccinated. Beginning Monday, Sept. 13, individuals ages 12 and up will be required to show proof of at least one vaccine dose."

Note that the mandate officially starts Monday, Aug. 16, and enforcement begins on Sept. 13, when schools reopen. So the Barclays Center, arguably, is not fully in accordance with the mandate--though an arena, with ticketed guests, is not like a restaurant.

One Twitter user commented, "So convenient.. right after the
@MTV music awards," which is true, though de Blasio didn't set the enforcement date to help the arena.

Most Twitter commenters were enthusiastic, with some saying they'd now get vaccinated (and one warning of fake vaccine cards, and others suggesting this should become the norm for sports venues. (Nothing yet from Madison Square Garden.)

One staffer wrote, "Well let’s see how many new co-workers I will have after the 13th!" Indeed, a significant percentage of Barclays Center employees have been younger Black people, and the New York Times reported 8/12/21 that "only 28 percent of Black New Yorkers ages 18 to 44 years are fully vaccinated."
Previous policy

About face masks

The arena has also changed its language regarding face masks.

I wrote 8/3/21 that, shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that even vaccinated people resume wearing masks in public indoor spaces, the arena announced that even vaccinated guests were "required to wear a mask at all times unless eating or drinking."

Yesterday, the arena changed the spin on the policy, if not the actual policy.

Current policy
As shown at left, the arena is now requiring all patrons to wear a mask. While it states "irrespective of vaccine status," it no longer states "unless eating or drinking."

However, the arena is not banning eating or drinking. The policy states, "Guests may eat in their seating locations (with the exception of courtside where no eating or drinking is permitted)."

This is consonant with the city policy, which allows indoor dining only with proof of vaccination--and you can't eat with a mask on.

Risks to the unmasked

But it's a reminder that, even with the new vaccination policy, indoor events pose some risk to the unmasked.

Also note: concerts are scheduled to resume Sept. 19, and, given the cheering, shouting, and singing that typically accompanies such events, that--perhaps even more than sports event attendance--pushes the boundary on masks.

Going forward, a booster?

One commenter on NetsDaily wrote:

Anyone who thinks vaccines are a panacea should read this. It’s pretty sobering 
By no means does the article suggest people shouldn’t get vaccinated – quite to the contrary 
But it objectively debunks the myth that vaccinated people aren’t rampantly catching and spreading the Delta variant right now. So people should dial down the self-righteousness about being vaccinated and not contributing to the spread of the virus. 18,000 fully-vaccinated, screaming fans at Barclays Center are likely to cause a major outbreak if even a handful of fans have the virus (assuming everyone isn’t wearing a well-fitted N95 mask throughout the game). In fact, don’t be surprised if you need a booster shot to get into Barclays by the time winter rolls around…

The article suggests a fully vaccinated person may only be 30% less likely than an unvaccinated person to catch Delta, if exposed. And if a vaccinated person catches it, they are probably just as infectious as an unvaccinated person. However, the very, very good news is that the odds of a vaccinated person getting seriously ill or dying if infected is much, much lower than if unvaccinated.
(Emphasis added)

One person responded that vaccinated people "are NOT 'rampantly' spreading the virus." Indeed, that may be overblown, but the New York Magazine article referenced raised a concern:
“We’re seeing a lot more spread in vaccinated people,” agreed Scripps’s Eric Topol, who estimated that the vaccines’ efficacy against symptomatic transmission, which he estimated to be 90 percent or above for the wild-type strain and all previous variants, had fallen to about 60 percent for Delta. “That’s a big drop.” Later, he suggested it might have fallen to 50 percent, and that new data about to be published in the U.S. would suggest an even lower rate. On Wednesday, a large pre-print study published by the Mayo clinic suggested the efficacy against infection had fallen as far as 42 percent.

And while vaccinated fans may not be "likely to cause a major outbreak," it's a reminder that the combination of the Delta strain and proximity to the (temporarily) unmasked adds some level of risk.