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PORT ST. LUCIE – If the major league season began today, any Met or Yankee who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 would be unable to play home games in New York City, The Post has learned.
The regular season does not begin until April 7, and the league office and both New York teams are aware of the New York City vaccine rules that would prohibit their unvaccinated players from being in a workplace. MLB, the Mets and the Yankees all declined comment.
The Yankees later released a statement on the status of games in NYC: “On behalf of the New York Yankees, [team president] Randy Levine is working with city hall and all other appropriate officials on this matter. We will have no further comment.”
This is a fluid situation and could be resolved prior to the New York-based portion of the season, beginning on April 7 when the Yankees host the Red Sox.
But, at this moment, this is essentially the Kyrie Irving situation the Nets are facing at Barclays Center going outdoors. The New York ordinance does not differentiate between indoor and outdoor work spaces.
The rule currently stipulates that, “Businesses may not allow any unvaccinated workers to work at their workplace. A workplace is considered any location – including a vehicle – where you work in the presence of at least one other person.”
The city’s private business vaccine mandate was first announced by former Mayor Bill de Blasio on Dec. 6 and took effect just after the New Year began — leaving enforcement of the rule up to Eric Adams.
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The policy bars employers from allowing unvaccinated workers enter the workplace without proof they’ve received their shots. Fines for offending businesses begin at $1,000, but additional penalties add up if there are multiple violations.
Although Adams has admitted the rule is “unfair” – as unvaccinated, out-of-town athletes are permitted to play in New York – he hasn’t changed the mandate, arguing he fears another COVID-19 shutdown.
The mayor was also heckled by a man shouting “Let Kyrie play!’ during a Saturday press conference, to which he responded with a thumbs up: “Kyrie can play tomorrow – get vaccinated.”
“I love New York and hecklers, man,” he jokingly added.
Meanwhile, the city has laid off over 1,400 public employees who refused to get vaccinated in violation of the city’s own mandate.
The Mets completed last season as one of six teams that failed to reach the 85 percent threshold for vaccinations that allowed relaxed protocols. More than players were included in the covered group needed to reach the 85-percent level. But, just among players, the Mets barely got above 50 percent vaccinated, a source told The Post. The other teams that failed to reach the 85 percent level were the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Red Sox and Royals.
The Yankees reached an 85 percent threshold, but were known to have key players who did not get the vaccine during last season. Anthony Rizzo said last June that he was not getting the vaccine despite being a cancer survivor. He was acquired by the Yankees and contacted COVID. He told The Post’s Steve Serby, “I just had COVID, so they say for three months I’m kinda in the clear, so I think after that it will be the time to really make the decision again.”
Rizzo is a free agent and still a consideration to be re-signed by the Yankees. He has not made publicly said what his current vaccine status is. But any player the New York teams are interested in who are unvaccinated would, at least currently, provide an extra hurdle to acquisition.
Aaron Judge missed nine games on the COVID IL in July and when asked at the time if he’d been vaxxed, he said: “I’m not gonna get into that.’’
Asked again on Tuesday, Judge said, “I’m so focused on just getting through the first game of spring training. I think we’ll cross that bridge whenever the time comes. But right now, so many things could change. I’m not really too worried about that right now.”
Players could have changed their minds and gotten vaccinated in the offseason. For example, Boston star shortstop Xander Bogaerts told reporters Monday that he had received a vaccination in the offseason after not getting one last year.
A City Hall spokesperson said, “The policy remains in place, we look at the data every single day and listen to the advice from public health experts. We cannot speak for what will happen in a month but the private sector mandate is today in place.”
— Additional reporting by Dan Martin in Tampa