Brookline Businesses Prepare for Town's COVID Vaccine Policy to Begin Saturday

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required for patrons at restaurants, gyms and indoor entertainment venues in Brookline, Massachusetts

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The COVID vaccine mandate at certain businesses in Brookline, Massachusetts, will go into effect just days after its announcement.

The order Brookline's interim health commissioner issued Tuesday alongside the Select Board and Advisory Council on Public Health applies to indoor and outdoor seating areas at restaurants, as well as gyms and indoor entertainment venues.

The first phase, requiring patrons 12 and older to provide proof of at least one dose of vaccination against COVID-19, begins Saturday.

The owner of Bottega Fiorentina is trying to figure out how the requirement will work in his small restaurant, which has no host.

"We're pretty much going to ask people once they get here, because I don't have anybody to stay at the door and ask for it," said Felipe Angeline, the owner the Italian restaurant.

"It is a challenging thing to prepare for," said Mark Harrington Jr., president of the Healthworks group, which has gyms throughout Boston and Brookline.

Harrington says he's in full support of the mandate, and he adds that the group has been planning ahead for months.

"Staff has to know how to verify the vaccination and also provide great customer service," he said. "It's a lot of education. Fortunately, we've been doing that for several months right now. We've required staff to be vaccinated since October."

Monday afternoon, the state also launched a new tool to help streamline the process, a digital vaccine card system with a QR code that can be scanned.

At Power Rowing in Brookline, the owner says he's already been asking for vaccine cards.

"We've had one or two people come in and say, 'I'm not vaccinated.' I say, 'You can't come in,'" said owner Bryan Fuller. "But no one has ever been sour grapes about it."

And with so many staffing shortages, that's what businesses are asking for -- patience from customers.

"Give us all a break. We need your support. We'e here to make you healthier and happier, and we could use any extra support," Harrington said.

The next phase of Brookline's vaccine policy for businesses begins Feb. 22, when visitors 12 and older will need to present proof of full vaccination, meaning one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of Pfizer or Moderna.

To enter impacted businesses, children ages 5-11, for whom the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized will need to provide proof of one dose starting March 22 and two doses starting May 1.

"This approach helps to protect our entire community as we approach the start of the third year of a pandemic that's touched all of our lives," Interim Health Commissioner Pat Maloney said in a statement Tuesday.

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