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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — New York City Mayor Adams is expected to announce a major change to the city’s vaccine mandate today.

The change – an exemption to NYC’s vaccine mandate for private workers – will allow professional athletes and entertainers to play at New York City venues.

It comes as the NBA and NHL playoff races heat up, and as Major League Baseball prepares for opening day.

It means Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will be allowed play home games, and unvaccinated baseball players can take the field when their season begins.

“Do not ask me any questions about hypotheticals, about what’s going to happen,” Irving said Wednesday night. “Please do not.”

“This turns the whole thing around, so hoping to get some good news,” said the Nets’ Kevin Durant.

The city’s sweeping vaccine mandate for workers will still apply to people with other types of jobs, including government employees.

Adams had said he felt the vaccine rule was unfair when it came to athletes and performers because a loophole in the measure, imposed under his predecessor, allowed visiting players and performers who don’t work in New York to still play or perform even if they are unvaccinated.

Irving, a vaccine holdout, had been among the most high-profile people impacted. He was able to re-join the team in January but only when they played out of town games.

This month, concerns had been raised that the rule would also impact Major League Baseball.

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Yankees star Aaron Judge refused to directly answer a question about his vaccine status earlier this month, leading to speculation that another New York team would be hobbled by a player’s refusal to get inoculated.

The Yankees, who open their season at home against the Boston Red Sox on April 7, said at the time that the team president was “working with city hall and all other appropriate officials on this matter.” The Yankees declined comment Wednesday.

Adams, a Mets fan, is scheduled to make an “economic and health-related announcement” Thursday morning at Citi Field, where the Mets play, according to his official calendar that was released Wednesday night.

Adams has been rolling back vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restrictions, including on Tuesday when he said masks could become optional for children under 5 starting April 4.

Mask mandates for older children have already been removed, as well as rules requiring people to show proof of vaccination to dine in a restaurant, work out at a gym, attend a show, or go to an indoor sporting event.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made vaccination mandatory as a workplace safety rule last year, before leaving office.
All employers are supposed to bar unvaccinated workers from being in shared workplaces.

The city suspended numerous public employees for refusing to get vaccinated, including public servants like firefighters and sanitation workers.

The creation of special exemptions for athletes or entertainers could potentially lead to court challenges arguing the city isn’t applying the law evenly.

On Twitter, an advisor to the former mayor blasted the move as a Kyrie carve out. “Vaccines work,” Dr. Jay Varma posted. “Unless you’re rich and powerful.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Source: This post first appeared on abc7NY

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