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Can residential buildings limit amenities to vaccinated residents?

By Alanna Schubach  | May 3, 2021 - 9:30AM

Many buildings have reopened amenities with strict precautions in place. 


Is it legal for a building to restrict the use of amenities to only people who have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19? And are the rules different for co-ops, condos, and rental buildings?

It would violate city human rights laws to restrict access to amenities in this way, our experts say.

"It would not be legal to limit building amenity spaces to individuals who have been vaccinated, due to the fact that some cannot be vaccinated because of medical conditions or religious beliefs," says Jeffrey Reich, a partner in the law firm of Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. "To exclude those individuals would be tantamount to religious discrimination, or discrimination based on a medical condition."

The Human Rights Law, which includes protection from discrimination based on religious belief and disability, applies in all types of New York City buildings, so no management should be instituting this type of restriction. 

Many city buildings are now reopening their amenity spaces, as gyms, restaurants, and theaters throughout the city also begin welcoming guests again at lower capacities. 

And rather than require proof of vaccination, Reich says, "The better course of action would be to adopt rules to ensure the safe use of the amenity spaces, such as social distancing, face covering, and cleaning requirements." 

Current city guidelines allow gyms, for instance, to operate at 33 percent percent capacity, with visitors competing a health screening, wearing masks, and socially distancing. There are also strict requirements for cleaning. Buildings can reopen amenities following similar guidance, and some are installing high-end air filtration systems for additional protection, as well as asking residents to use reservation systems and answer Covid questionnaires before accessing the spaces.  

"Any amenity space that is reopening in New York State is doing so in accordance with CDC guidelines," says Michael Wolfe, president of Midboro Management, a residential building management company. "But many boards have elected to keep things closed even when they're permitted to reopen. Others are being prudent and using a scheduling system to allow people to use with space without crowding, and setting aside time for cleaning."  

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Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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