Vaccination segregation grows in New Jersey
As the divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated grows, there is a trend emerging that will segregate the two groups and even deny access to the unvaccinated.
Organizers of the Sea, Hear, Now music festival in Asbury Park announced new restrictions for next month's event. People will be denied entry if they cannot prove vaccination status, or show proof of a negative COVID test. Masks will be required for all indoor activities, regardless of vaccination status.
This is the first big event in New Jersey to announce a vaccination mandate. There will likely be more, as event organizers struggle with whether to cancel, or modify rules of attendance.
Organizers of the annual Sussex County Crawfish fest cancelled the music festival because of COVID concerns.
Many believe rules announced in New York City could soon be adopted in New Jersey and other parts of the country. Dining in a restaurant or attending most events will now require proof of vaccination.
Some restaurants in NYC are already setting up vaccinated and non-vaccinated seating. It's been likened to the days when smokers were segregated to their own sections when smoking was still permitted in restaurants.
Noted restaurateur AJ Bontempo embraced the city's new rules, telling the New York Post, "I’d like there to be an energy, without all that plexiglass, and to reward people for being vaccinated – to give them that experience.”
For now, it is private industry that is driving the segregation of the unvaccinated. However, efforts are being praised by many government leaders. President Joe Biden applauded businesses for taking these steps, and promised to "have their back."
Governor Phil Murphy has not expressed support for a uniform government issued "vaccine passport," but has been generally supportive of businesses that are implementing their own rules. On Wednesday, he vilified the unvaccinated when he confronted anti-vax protestors at an event in Union City. Murphy called them the "ultimate knuckleheads" and suggested they has "lost their minds."
The separation of the unvaccinated is also likely to extend into the workplace. As businesses and corporations start returning more workers to a common workplace, there is likely to be some degree of division based on vaccination status.
Legal issues are likely to arise. Vaccination status is not a legally protected category, so many legal experts agree segregating the unvaccinated is allowed under the law, but grey areas exist when an employee objects to vaccination based on health or religious reasons.