Mayor Eric Adams brushed aside questioning Wednesday about unvaccinated New York Yankees and Mets being barred from playing home games — insisting he’s looking out for the health of the Big Apple’s population as a whole while promising to come up with a “solution” for pro baseball players who haven’t received a jab.
During an unrelated press conference in Queens, Adams also said he would keep removing COVID-19-related regulations — but on his own timeline, not one dictated by professional sports teams’ schedules.
“We’re going to continue to peel back, but let’s be clear: Everyone that’s focusing on a sports area, they’re focusing on one person,” he said in response to a question about The Post’s Wednesday front page on the potential for stars on both New York baseball teams not being allowed to play at home.
But Adams seemed to home in on Nets star Kyrie Irving, who is not allowed to play at the Barclays Center because of the private-sector employee vaccine requirement.
“I’m focused on 9 million people,” Adams said. “And so, I am not looking at one person, I’m looking at my city not closing down again, not having to deal with this crisis again.”
“We’re going to peel back like we did with the Key to NYC, like we did with children, we are continuing to do so,” the mayor added. “But I’m not going to be rushed in based on a season schedule. I am going to do this right for the people of the city, and I’m not focusing on one individual; I’m focusing on 9 million people.”
The mayor’s remarks come a day after The Post confirmed that when MLB’s season begins, Mets and Yankees players who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be allowed to play at Citi Field or Yankee Stadium. For the Bronx Bombers and the Amazin’s, Adams vowed to work with MLB to arrive at an unspecified “solution” before the teams take the field in early April.
“We’re going to do an analysis. Baseball season is not tomorrow. It’s not next week. We are going to work this out. We will ensure the safety of New Yorkers without continuing the spread of COVID,” he said Wednesday.
“I’m looking forward to speaking to Major League Baseball, as we put our heads together with our medical team and figure out how we come up with a solution here. That’s my goal. My goal is to come up with a solution where we’re safe, to get our economy back up and operating and don’t change the progress we have made.”
It required proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter many kinds of indoor settings, including sports venues, restaurants, bars and movie theaters. But the rule exempted members of professional sports teams who do not live in New York City as well as non-resident performing artists.
On Wednesday morning, Adams noted it was that specific component of the city’s now-removed indoor venue vaccine mandate that he has deemed unfair, not the private-sector vaccine requirement, which he has maintained.
“I think it was unfair for the city to state that players who have come from outside the city can play and those who are on New York City sports teams are not allowed to play,” he said. “We’re going to continue to evaluate and shift and make sure we’re safe. That’s the only answer I can give you.”
During the press conference, the mayor also claimed compulsory inoculation rules against COVID-19 allowed professional basketball teams to play their full season without stoppages, and credited them with allowing the five boroughs to not return to the early days of the pandemic.
“The NBA has a season because of mandates. They didn’t have to cancel the season because we have mandates in place,” he said. “We are here while schools are open, businesses are open, our city is not being closed down, our hospitals are not being overrun. This is why we’re here.”
Meanwhile, Irving — a 29-year-old, seven-time NBA All-Star who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine — has been playing in away games but not ones in New York City. Irving was able to sit courtside in street clothes on Sunday at the Barclays Center where the Nets faced off against the Knicks, because the city’s indoor venue vaccine requirement has been lifted while the private-sector worker one remains in place.
The Nets were subsequently fined $50,000 for allowing the star guard into their locker room.