A business owner explained his position against mask mandates in New York City on Friday in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

Eli Klein is the owner of an art gallery and said he is against the city imposing more restrictions. Host John Berman said to Klein, “You really don’t want to go back to masks indoors in your gallery.”

Klein said “it’s not just about my gallery. It’s about New York City generally. If we are subject to sweeping mask mandates now in the summer, you know, let’s be honest…we don’t know when COVID levels will ever be lower than they are now in New York City and that could put us on a slippery slope to all kinds of the same restrictions that we were subject to last year.”

He added, “Things like micro-cluster targeting and capacity limits and business shutdowns. It’s not just a mask.”

“None of us have a problem just putting on a mask. It’s really much more than that. It’s a blueprint for indefinite government restrictions in New York,” he noted. “We’ve had vaccines available for everyone [ages twelve and up] for many months and there has to be an endgame. There has to be an off-ramp.”

Berman asked Klein if the news about the Delta variant had any impact on his view. Klein said that it’s “catastrophic news” and something that people should take seriously, but he added that it doesn’t impact his view with respect to reimplementing restrictions. 

He said that the vaccines are widely available and very effective and added that reimplementing mask mandates in New York City would stunt the recovery and tourism, adding that it “would crush businesses that have already been crushed.”

Berman went on to ask Klein about vaccine mandates and what his thoughts were on those. Klein said that the main problem he had with vaccine mandates in New York City is that it would discriminate against and exclude certain members of the population from various activities.

Klein pointed out that his concern was not selfish and that he wasn’t only concerned about his own art gallery, but rather about New York City as a whole. 

“Mask restrictions lead to every restriction,” he said. He also said that vaccine requirements are “technically a restriction” if someone is checking vaccine status upon entry. 

He pointed out how it would disproportionately keep people of color out of his art gallery if he were to impose a vaccine mandate for anyone entering since many people of color are not getting the vaccine. He noted that many people have natural immunity, but that isn’t recognized as “vaccinated” by officials.

“Am I prepared to ban the majority of black people from visiting my gallery? Absolutely not,” he said.

On Thursday, Klein tweeted, “Reimplementation of Covid mask mandates may just be the beginning. Soon they could retry things like ‘micro-cluster targeting’ in NYC. Yes, that actually existed. No, it didn’t work.”

He added, “IT’S NOT ‘JUST A MASK.’ It’s a blueprint for indefinite gov’t mandates & a huge step backwards”

On Friday, Klein tweeted, “There’s no proof that ~anything NY or CA did to slow Covid actually led to better outcomes. NONE”

“So spare me the morally superior takes about how we MUST implement the exact same severely harmful measures to stop Delta, because it’s ~2x more transmissible. That makes zero sense,” he added. 


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