Two people were arrested and about a half-dozen others were denied entry to the State House early Tuesday afternoon when a small group of demonstrators created a scene over the COVID-19 protocols for members of the public to enter the building.
State Police said there were about 10 people outside the Ashburton entrance and that "[s]everal protestors attempted to push past the Court Officers manning the security checkpoint at that entrance. Troopers told the protesters to stop trying to force their way past the Court Officers and warned them they would be arrested if they continued to do so."
A man and a woman then tried again to physically push by the court officers and were arrested, State Police said. Shawn Nelson, 43, of Boston, and Michelle Efendi, 35, of Randolph were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. Nelson is also charged with assault and battery on a public employee and Effendi was additionally charged with assault, according to State Police. Both were transported to Boston Municipal Court to be arraigned after their booking.
At 12:35 p.m., two State Police troopers could be seen leading a man by the arms in through the building's Ashburton entrance and appeared to escort him down to the building's sub-basement. Outside, a group of about six people were being denied entry to the State House for refusing to comply with the rules put in place when the State House reopened to the public last week.
The policy requires that any visitor must show either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a recent negative test result. A woman who refused to give her name said she wanted to go into the State House to talk to representatives and said the requirements for entry constitute "an illegal policy."
The small group of demonstrators, none of whom would give their names to the News Service, said they did not represent any particular organization and wanted to go into the State House to speak with elected officials. They did not answer when asked if they were aware of the State House policy before their initial attempt to enter the building.
The Ashburton entrance to the State House was briefly closed during the incident, which lasted less than half an hour, though the Department of Conservation and Recreation rangers who handle security for the building made other doors accessible for people to leave the building and for building employees to enter.
Even before the State House reopened from its nearly two-year public closure, Boston had dropped similar requirements of its own for entering restaurants and other businesses, and on Friday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control eased its masking recommendations to allow most people to go maskless in public settings.
House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka said Monday that they will continue to monitor trends before making any decisions.
"The data is changing so rapidly and the numbers are dropping precipitously, so I've been continuing talking about and looking at positivity rates, wastewater rates, ICU beds, hospitalizations, and they are all dropping," Spilka said. "So, you know, continue to look at those indicators and will be discussing it with my colleagues about any potential changes that may occur."