Boston's New Vaccine Mandate for Indoor Venues: Read the Guidelines

Mayor Michelle Wu's plan also included a vaccination requirement for all city workers

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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced a plan Monday to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination at indoor dining, fitness and entertainment locations.

Her plan also included a vaccination requirement for all city workers.

It's a drastic move that's aimed at addressing the recent surge in coronavirus cases across the city.

Here's the city's full announcement:

Citing the rising surge of COVID-19 cases and the urgent need to increase vaccination to safeguard the community this winter, today Mayor Michelle Wu announced B Together, an initiative to require vaccination in certain indoor spaces in Boston, including indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment establishments.

The city also announced that it will require vaccination of all city employees on the same timeline (January 15 for first dose and February 15 for the second dose), unless granted a reasonable accommodation for medical or religious reasons. This is an update of the previous policy, which allowed for an option for city workers to be regularly tested instead of being vaccinated.  

Protesters at Boston City Hall were angry over the new vaccination mandates announced by Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday.

Mayor Wu was joined at the announcement at Boston City Hall by fellow mayors and municipal leaders from across Greater Boston who announced their own plans to pursue vaccination requirements as part of a regional effort to combat the winter surge, increase vaccination, and protect indoor gatherings.   

Established through a public health order issued by the Boston Public Health Commission, the new guidance seeks to increase vaccination rates among residents and slow the spread of COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant. Implementation will begin January 15 and will phase in second vaccine doses and youth vaccination requirements. Both patrons and employees will be required to show proof of vaccination. The indoor mask mandate remains in effect. 

“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.”  

“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.”  

Starting January 15, 2022, patrons of covered businesses will be required to show proof of vaccination upon entering the premises. The order states that individuals can demonstrate vaccination by showing their CDC vaccination card or a photo of their card, any official immunization record or digital image from a pharmacy or health care provider, or on any COVID-19 vaccine verification app. The city also announced plans to create its own app, modeled on the successful Key to NYC app that has supported the vaccine requirement effort in New York City.   

Dr. Sandy Nelson, an infectious disease expert at Mass. General Hospital, talks about the rise in COVID cases ahead of Christmas, and what we can all do to keep safe.

Businesses included will also be required to post a notice at all entrances. The city will begin a weeks-long campaign to educate residents and businesses about the new policy, utilizing city outreach workers and inspectional services. Businesses found not in compliance will receive verbal and written warnings. Repeat offenders may be subject to fines.   

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has implemented COVID-19 guidance based on the most recent case and vaccination trends. As of December 14, 2021, 79% of the total Boston resident population has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 68% are fully vaccinated. Only 31 percent of fully vaccinated Bostonians have been boosted. Among 5-11 year olds, only 30% have received their first dose of vaccine.   

Boston is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. New positive cases have increased 89% compared to two weeks ago, and we are now averaging 369 new cases per day. COVID-related emergency department visits increased over the past week, and the city is now averaging 229 adult COVID-19 hospitalizations per day, which is more than 60% higher than two weeks ago. Among those who are hospitalized in Boston with COVID-19, an estimated two thirds are unvaccinated. With the current surge, and emergence of the Omicron variant, we expect case numbers to rise in January. The City continues to closely monitor this data and make decisions that best protect residents.   

Many businesses have had some form of mandate in place already. Those who spoke to NBC10 Boston Monday night said they are happy to see the City of Boston take the lead.

The City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission continue to support easily accessible walk-in vaccination clinics across the city, including at many community centers, schools, and community health centers. The Commission is working with community partners and health centers to extend family clinics into the new year and is opening additional high-capacity clinics over the next several weeks. The Commission also partnered with Boston Public Schools to expand clinics on-site at schools across the city for students 5-years and older.  

This week, walk-in clinics are operating at Gallivan Community Center, Morning Star Baptist Church, Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Tufts Medical Center, the Egleston YMCA, the Muse in Roxbury, Charlestown Boys and Girls Club, and other locations. At these walk-in clinics, vaccines are free, and individuals do not need to make an appointment or show proof of insurance. Boosters are available to people who received a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine 6 months ago or a Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than 2 months ago. Because of the ability to mix-and-match, it does not matter which vaccine a person has before their booster. A list of vaccination sites in Boston can be found here.   

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