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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. Abdulla Shahid, Maldives Foreign Minister, poses for Reuters after a interview in New Delhi (India), January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Alasdair Pal

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – 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 all 193 member U.N. states about the plan in a written letter. This was seen by Reuters. He had previously stated that he supports the New York City request that proof be required, and that he would cooperate with U.N. chief Antonio Guterres for implementation.

But Shahid abandoned the push after Russia objected, saying it would be discriminatory, and Guterres told Reuters in an interview https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/vaccinated-mr-president-new-york-wants-proof-un-chief-cannot-enforce-2021-09-15 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.”

The annual meeting of high-ranking diplomats will see dozens of foreign and state ministers and heads of government, as well as many diplomats, arrive in New York. Due to the pandemic coronavirus, some leaders will opt for a video message rather than sending one.

The honor system for vaccination status began June 1st. Diplomats are required to swipe their U.N. ID card at the General Assembly Hall. This is considered proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Manhattan’s U.N. Headquarters is an international property and not under U.S. law. U.N. officials had previously promised to comply with local and nation-specific guidance in the event of a pandemic.

New York City officials informed the World Body that in accordance with its rules, anyone “entering U.N. premises to enter the General Assembly Hall” would need to provide proof of vaccination.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city would provide free COVID-19 testing and shots of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:) vaccine at a site outside U.N. headquarters next week.

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