A New York City judge has barred a father from visiting his 3-year-old daughter unless he is vaccinated against COVID-19 or submits to weekly tests.
Justice Matthew Cooper ruled in the divorce hearing allowing the father to visit his daughter in person while unvaccinated is “not in the child’s best interests,” according to the New York Post. The father, who was unnamed in the court’s opinion, has already recovered from the COVID-19 virus.
“Here, in-person parental access by defendant is not in the child’s best interests, and there are exceptional circumstances that support its suspension,” Cooper wrote on October 7. “The dangers of voluntarily remaining unvaccinated during access with a child while the COVID-19 virus remains a threat to children’s health and safety cannot be understated.”
The father’s attorney, Lloyd Rosen, pushed back against the judge’s decision. Rosen defended his client’s skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccine while attacking Cooper’s reasoning as unscientific. The attorney pointed out that his client already has natural immunity to COVID-19 from his bout with the illness.
“My client is not a conspiracy theorist,” Rosen said. “He has concerns about the vaccine. He’s heard about side effects. He once had a bad reaction to a flu vaccine.”
Rosen also argued that the judge’s ruling was “absurd” and set an unrealistic precedent.
“This judge must feel that 80 million Americans who aren’t vaccinated are placing their children at imminent risk of harm and, therefore, the courts should intervene and remove those children from their parents,” Rosen said. “This is an absurd position to take.”
New York is home to some of the strictest COVID-19 protocols and regulations in the U.S. In August, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that so-called “vaccine passports” would be needed in order to eat in restaurants or go to gyms. New York City was the first city in the country to adopt such measures. De Blasio said at a press conference:
Today I announce a new approach which we’re calling the “Key to NYC Pass.” The key to New York City. When you hear those words, I want you to imagine the notion that because someone is vaccinated, they can do all of the amazing things that are available in this city. This is a miraculous place, literally full of wonders, and if you’re vaccinated, all of that is going to open up to you. You’ll have the key. You can open the door…
The goal here is to convince everyone that this is the time. If we are going to stop the Delta variant, the time is now, and that means getting vaccinated right now.
“Not everyone is going to agree with this; I understand that,” de Blasio continued. “It’s going to guarantee a much higher level of vaccination in this city, and that is the key to protecting people and the key to our recovery. That’s why it’s the ‘Key to NYC.’”