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Boston's vaccine mandate for indoor dining and workouts starts Saturday

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu held a press conference in City Hall on Dec. 20, 2021, to discuss the city's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. She announced a vaccine mandate to enter businesses in Boston. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu held a press conference in City Hall on Dec. 20, 2021, to discuss the city's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. She announced a vaccine mandate to enter businesses in Boston. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

As of Saturday, you will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 if you want to dine in a restaurant or work out in a gym in Boston. The mandate also covers bars, museums and indoor entertainment venues.

The requirement, known as B Together, is part of Boston's effort to encourage more people to get the vaccine and booster shots as COVID numbers surge. Mayor Michelle Wu first announced the vaccine mandate in December, prompting some protests.

“It's a little bit split in the industry,” said Steve Clark, vice president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

He said while some restaurants already require some sort of proof of vaccination, others worry the mandate will hurt their business.

“We're in a perfect storm in the industry where we're having an increased government mandate, increase in virus positivity rate and also a lack of government funding that's out there to help restaurants that are dealing with this,” he said. “So, it's really a tenuous time at the moment.”

The vaccine mandate also applies to employees at restaurants, gyms and indoor entertainment venues. They’ll have to get one shot by Jan. 15 and be fully vaccinated by Feb. 15 — just like their customers. Children younger than 12 will need to show proof of vaccination starting in March.

And Boston is not alone. Brookline announced its own vaccine mandate, set to begin Jan. 15, while public health officials in Somerville are considering a similar proposal from Mayor Katjana Ballantyne.

“Taking a regional approach to make sure that people are safe and healthy is an important step to trying to slow down the spread of COVID,” Ballantyne said.

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Darryl C. Murphy is a business reporter at WBUR.

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Yasmin Amer is a business reporter for WBUR.

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