New York City Mayor Eric Adams is expected to lift a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for performers and professional athletes in the city Thursday, a source familiar with the plan told CNN.
The policy has kept Irving, a seven-time All-Star guard who has chosen not to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, from playing in the 35 home games the Nets have played since the NBA season began in October.
Adams is expected to make the announcement at the New York Mets’ Citi Field on Thursday morning, the source said. The announcement would come ahead of the start of Major League Baseball’s season, allowing unvaccinated Mets and Yankees players to play home games as well.
New York on March 7 lifted its mask mandate for indoor activities. But its policy requiring all workers who perform in-person work or interact with the public to show proof of having received at least one dose of the vaccine remained.
Irving arrived at his post-game press conference requesting that no reporter quiz him on the mandate until an official announcement, but was subsequently left irritated as he was asked about it.
“So you didn’t hear me walk in?” Irving replied. “You didn’t hear my statement when I walked in? Don’t put me in a position until anything is official.”
The conference ended in smiles when Irving, later asked about the potential “domino effect” of the policy change on the team, said that he “could not wait” to talk to reporters once an official announcement was made.
“That’s got to be the greatest birthday gift ever,” someone could be heard saying, to which Irving replied, “I appreciate that,” before smiling and walking away, with laughs audible in the background.
With a game on the road to come at the Miami Heat on Saturday, the Nets’ next home game is against the Charlotte Hornets the following evening.
Rule under scrutiny
The policy had attracted increasing criticism from some affiliated with the NBA this month, as other Covid-19 rules around the country receded.
“The nonsensical ordinance that singles out our own New York City players is fundamentally unfair,” the executive director, Tamika Tremaglio, wrote on social media. “Under this current rule, out-of-town athletes can come into the city and not be vaccinated, and fans can enter both the Barclays Center and (Madison Square Garden) regardless of vaccination status.”
He is in his third year of a four-year, $136 million contract signed with the Nets in 2019.
Adams’ announcement would be the latest in a string of decisions relaxing Covid-19 measures. The mayor indicated on Tuesday that he would lift the mask mandates around April 4 in schools and daycare settings for children from 2 to 4 years old, an age group that does not currently have a vaccine available, “if the numbers continue to show a low level of risk.”