Boston’s vaccine mandate to take effect Saturday; City launches app to show proof of vaccination

BOSTON — In less than 48 hours, Boston’s vaccine mandate will take effect. That means people will have to show proof of vaccination to get into gyms, restaurants, and entertainment venues in the city.

The deadline happens to fall on a big sports day for the city. The Bruins and Celtics both have home games at the TD Garden Saturday. The Patriots have their big playoff game in Buffalo. So for sports fans wanting to watch any of those games at a bar in Boston, they’re going to have to show proof of vaccination.

Mayor Michelle Wu announced the city’s vaccine mandate just before the new year. As an effort to slow the spread of COVID, starting Saturday, people 12 and over will be required to show proof that they’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine when they go to a gym, restaurant, or entertainment venue. They’ll be required to have their second dose by February 15.

As of Tuesday, March 1st children ages 5-11 must show proof of at least one dose of vaccine. Sunday, May 1, is the final deadline by which all people ages five and older must show proof of full vaccination. The mandate does not currently require a booster for an individual to be considered fully vaccinated, but the city may modify this provision in the future.

Wu’s mandate also requires city employees to be vaccinated on those same deadlines. But that has received some pushback from unions representing police and firefighters. They claimed the mandate should’ve been the subject of collective bargaining talks. They challenged the mandate in court, but a judge decided not to intervene and is allowing the mandate to go into effect Saturday.

To help make the process easier, the city is launching an app to show you’ve gotten your shots. The ‘B Together’ app will be available on both the Apple and Google app stores this Saturday---the same day that the vaccine mandate goes into effect.

After downloading the app, users take a picture of their vaccination card and load it into their app. The app will allow the user to include their entire family’s vaccination cards. The app works on the honor system, so there’s no way to prove whether the vaccination card loaded in there is real or not.

The city’s app is different than the state’s website, which instead of a picture of your vaccination card, creates a QR code you can download to have on your phone. The state doesn’t have a mandate, but the system provides another way to show proof, should you need it.

But in Boston, you’ll need to show proof starting Saturday to get into bars, restaurants, gyms, or entertainment venues. You can use the new app, the state’s system, or the old school paper card. You do not need to show proof if you are entering a restaurant in the city to pick up a takeout order.

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