New York City's Public Hotel is the first across the boroughs to require all guests, visitors and staff to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Iconic hotelier and co-founder of the legendary Studio 54, Ian Schrager, has been credited with inventing the boutique hotel concept. He told NY1 that the decision to become the first hotel in the city to mandate proof of vaccination is to ensure guests can experience a worry-free stay at the hotel.

What You Need To Know

  • The mandate will go into effect starting September 5; children under 12 are exempt when accompanied by a vaccinated adult

  • The decision comes despite hotels being exempt from Mayor Bill de Blasio's proof of vaccination edict
  • Public opened in 2017 on Manhattan's Lower East Side and features 367 rooms, three restaurants and a private movie theater

"I think guests will be able to trust us, know that we are looking out for them. I think it is the right thing to do,” Schrager explained.

He said when city edicts for proof of vaccination were being discussed for venues, including indoor dining at hotels and entertainment spaces, that it "made no sense" not to include the same protocols for the rest of the hotel and those working or staying there. He added that about 80% of his staff have been vaccinated.

Schrager said he has received positive feedback from guests and staff who say they feel protected and safe because of the new rules.

The pandemic has been a big blow to the entire industry and Public has been no exception. Schrager said labor shortages have forced him to cut back amenities at the hotel temporarily, such as having to suspend lunchtime service at the dinging establishments there due to staffing issues. He said staff that are working have had to work overtime to ensure the operation keeps running seamlessly. 

The city's hotel industry was decimated due to the virus and is struggling to revive itself. Hotel occupancy averaged about 36% in December 2020. That rate jumped to 63% in June, according to real estate tracker CoStar, and the city has pumped $30 million into a marketing campaign intended to boost tourism.

Schrager is hopeful once federal government enhanced unemployment benefits end next month there will be an influx of people willing to return to the industry.

Public, a 367-room, hotel did shut it doors during the height of the pandemic to undergo renovations before reopening in June with new safety protocols in place. 

The hotel features a rooftop bar as well as three restaurants and a space for business meetings and private parties.