New York Mayor Eric Adams was expected to lift the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for professional athletes and performers on Thursday, allowing unvaccinated Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving to play at home and lifting a cloud ahead of Major League Baseball’s opening day.
Adams was expected to announce the lifting of the requirements, among the most stringent in the United States, during a news conference at 11:30 a.m. ET (1530 GMT) at Citi Field, home to the New York Mets, media reported.
The mandate, imposed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, is part of a larger order that all private-sector workers in New York City must show proof of vaccination.
The mayor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.
After making masks optional for children aged 2 to 4 in school and daycare earlier this week, Adams urged professional sports teams to be patient, saying that the city would evaluate its requirements “layer by layer.”
Irving, a seven-time National Basketball Association All-Star who is unvaccinated, sat out the first two months of the current season. The city’s vaccine mandate prevented him from playing in home games. On Jan. 5, Irving played his first road game of the season against the Indiana Pacers.
Adams, who took office in January, has kept the mandate in place despite complaints that the athletes could play in other cities and practice with their teams outside the city.
Unvaccinated performers have been unable to take the stage at venues like Madison Square Garden and Broadway since the mandate was put into place.
The expected loosening of the restrictions comes in time for Major League Baseball’s opening day on April 7 after a lockout forced a brief postponement. The New York Yankees will play their home opener on April 7 while the New York Mets will welcome back fans on April 15.