Boston’s indoor vaccine requirement met with protests

BOSTON — Saturday marked the first day of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s ‘B Together’ initiative, requiring customers and employees at many businesses to show proof they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

It applies to restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment venues, and more. The mayor defended the policy at a press conference Saturday.

“This is a citywide policy based on the science, on the needs of our healthcare system to end this pandemic, and it is a citywide policy decision,” Wu said. “I am happy to be held accountable for that. Please, as you are out and about in our city, do not heckle our restaurant owners and small business employees.”

Before the mayor’s press conference, dozens of people waving flags and holding signs protested the mandate.

“I’m out here because I want everyone to have their own choice about what to do with their bodies,” said Fern Francois of Lynn. “I’m not against the vaccine, but I’m definitely against the mandate. We have to fight against it because if we don’t, they get to do whatever they want.”

Mayor Wu also addressed daily protests that have been happening outside her home.

“I am used to this. Unfortunately, many women of color serving in positions of leadership are used to this,” Wu said. “But I live in a two-family home on a residential street. My next-door neighbor is a 96-year-old veteran who deserves to have his sleep in the morning. There are many, many families on our street who have young kids who are getting woken up by hateful messages and loud words being broadcast down our street and beyond over megaphones.”

Wu said the city distributed signs to restaurants and businesses, explaining that the policy implemented by the city is not the decision of the individual business or owner.

“I’ve been in politics for a long time in Boston,” Wu said. “I have never once backed down from a position or an issue because people are yelling or getting loud.”

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