Mayor Wu: Boston requiring proof of vaccination for certain indoor spaces

BOSTON — Monday morning, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu made a major announcement regarding the city’s COVID-19 protocol.

The city of Boston will now require proof of vaccination for indoor dining, indoor fitness venues, and indoor entertainment and recreation establishments starting January 15, 2022.

A complete list of covered businesses include:

  • Indoor dining areas: Indoor portions of foodservice establishments offering food and drink, including restaurants, bars, and all indoor dining areas of foodservice establishments.
  • Indoor entertainment, recreational, and event venues: Movie theaters, music or concert venues, commercial events, and party venues, museums and galleries, professional sports arenas and indoor stadiums, convention centers and exhibition halls, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, and other recreational centers.
  • Indoor gyms and fitness settings: Commercial gyms, fitness, yoga/pilates/barre/dance studios, boxing/kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, indoor pools, and other facilities used for conducting group fitness classes.

The Boston Public Health Commission’s new guidance seeks to increase vaccination rates among residents and slow the spread of COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant. Boston city leaders released a full timeline for the latest vaccination mandate.

“Vaccines are the most powerful tool we have to fight this pandemic. Vaccination saves lives, and closing vaccination gaps is the best way to support and protect our communities, businesses, and cultural institutions during this pandemic,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The vast majority of COVID-related hospitalizations are of unvaccinated individuals, which is impacting our entire healthcare system and compromising the health of our communities. Today’s steps to protect community members in certain indoor establishments and throughout our city workforce will help ensure that everyone in Boston will be safe. City government must take down barriers and direct our resources for easy access to testing and vaccination to protect our city and all of our communities.”

Mayor Wu also confirmed that all Boston city employees must get vaccinated. She added that the city plans to remove the weekly testing option for employees who elected not to get vaccinated.

During the press conference, Mayor Wu was joined by the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission and the other members of her newly formed COVID-19 Advisory Committee.

“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Boston. The B Together initiative is just one component of a multilayered, comprehensive strategy that the city has implemented to address COVID-19 and promote the health and safety of Boston residents,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “We must also ensure that every Bostonian has easier access to vaccines and boosters, and we will be rolling out new sites across the city.”

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the city. Based on the city’s latest data, Boston is averaging about 370 positive cases a day. Compare that to just two months ago in October there were about 80 cases a day. There are about 229 residents in city hospitals, and nearly 95% of the ICU beds are taken up.

“With winter upon us and the Omicron variant surging, the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau is not surprised by Mayor Wu’s decision, but we are sensitive to the onus this will shift to the already beleaguered hospitality sector. We will do everything we can to assist with guidance and resources that may be helpful for businesses to enforce and comply with this new measure. Moreover, it is our sincere hope that this new policy will support, rather than inhibit, the safe recovery and reopening of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry. The urgent need for free and accessible COVID-19 testing throughout the city is more important now than ever.”

—  Martha Sheridan, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, President and CEO

As it stands right now, city employees are required to be vaccinated or take a weekly COVID test. Back in August, when acting Mayor Kim Janey was still in office, Wu applauded the administration for requiring city workers to get vaccinated. Wu has also supported the measures New York City has taken with vaccine passports.

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