New York City proposes 1-dose COVID-19 vaccinations to tourists

In this June 7, 2018 photo, a tour boat on the Hudson River passes 3 World Trade Center, second from left, and the lower Manhattan skyline. The 80-story office building set to open this week will be the third completed skyscraper at the trade center site. The ribbon-cutting will be a vindication for developer Larry Silverstein, who dismissed doubts that the market would support the buildings he wanted to put up to replace the lost twin towers. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

New York City hopes to begin offering coronavirus inoculations to tourists by stationing vaccination vans at Times Square and other attractions, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

The city needs state approval to vaccinate visitors and hopes to get an OK as soon as this weekend.

READ MORE: Canadians might be vaccinated ‘sooner than originally anticipated,’ officials say

The state Health Department said it hadn’t yet received a formal plan to review.

“Meanwhile, we remain focused on vaccine equity and ensuring vaccine access for vulnerable New Yorkers and continue to assess the most effective use of doses as demand stabilizes,” spokesperson Jonah Bruno said.

De Blasio called the city’s idea “a positive message to tourists: `Come here. It’s safe, it’s a great place to be and we’re going to take care of you.”’

“It’s a show of goodwill. It’s a welcome,” but not a requirement, the Democratic mayor said. He said the city has no plans to track tourists’ vaccination status.

Besides Times Square, the vans would appear in such places as Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park and the High Line elevated park, de Blasio said. Visitors would get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, so they wouldn’t have to follow up with a second shot.

Although many visitors might leave New York before the vaccine’s full protection kicks in, de Blasio argued that “the more people get vaccinated, the better” for the city and world.

Under another plan announced Thursday, tourists and New Yorkers alike could see some new artwork and performances in public spaces.

De Blasio said the city would spend $25 million to hire over 1,500 artists and performers for an “Artists Corps” that would create murals, pop-up shows and other works.

Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals said details would be announced later.

The Canadian Press