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Vaccinated, Mr. President? We’ll take your word for it, United Nations says
Michelle Nichols, Reuters
Posted at Sep 17 2021 08:30 AM
In this file photo, Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte addresses the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 26, 2018. In next week's General Assembly, presidents, prime ministers and diplomats who enter the General Assembly Hall next week will not be not required to show proof of immunization. Angela Weiss, AFP/file
UNITED NATIONS—The United Nations COVID-19 vaccination honor system will remain in place for presidents, prime ministers and diplomats who enter the General Assembly Hall next week and they are not required to show proof of immunization.
General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid notified the 193-member UN member states of the plan on Thursday in a letter, seen by Reuters, after telling them on Tuesday that he supported a New York City demand that proof was required and would work with UN chief Antonio Guterres to implement it. 
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But Shahid abandoned the push after Russia objected, saying it would be discriminatory, and Guterres told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that the U.N. Secretariat "cannot tell a head of state if he is not vaccinated that he cannot enter the United Nations."
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Dozens of heads of state and government and foreign ministers, accompanied by countless diplomats, are due to be in New York for the annual high-level gathering. Some leaders are staying away and sending a video statement instead because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the honor system on vaccination status, which began on June 1, diplomats swipe their UN identification card upon entry to the General Assembly Hall and that is considered a declaration that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The UN headquarters in Manhattan is international territory and is not subject to US laws. However, UN officials have previously pledged to abide by local and national guidance when it came to the pandemic.
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New York City officials told the world body that under its rules people "entering the UN premises for the purpose of entering the General Assembly Hall would be required to show proof of vaccination in order to gain entry to the Hall."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city would provide free COVID-19 testing and shots of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a site outside UN headquarters next week. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)
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