Boston's Morning Newsletter
Boston to drop contentious COVID vaccine mandate for city workers on May 11
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This dreary weather will supposedly turn for the better soon, and that’s not the only big shift on the horizon…
Boston is dropping its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees next week. In a letter yesterday, Mayor Michelle Wu’s office told employees they’re “lifting all policies requiring vaccination and/or regular testing” next Thursday, the same day state and federal COVID public health emergencies expire. Gov. Maura Healey’s administration is also dropping its vaccine mandate for state workers the same day.
- While the mandate resulted in a protracted legal battle and vocal protests from a small group of employees, Wu’s office says over 95% of employees complied with the policy by January 2022.
- What they’re saying: “Since that time, the public health landscape has changed considerably,” Chief People Officer Alex Lawrence wrote. “We have more tools to manage this virus, data indicates that there are fewer large scale outbreaks and our healthcare system is not under the acute strain it was in December 2021.”
- On a related note: WBUR’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey reports at least two major Boston hospitals recently reached a milestone not seen since early 2020: zero COVID patients.
Back to the drawing board? Massachusetts recorded a $2.2 billion drop in tax revenue last month compared to April 2022. While state officials and business leaders aren’t freaking out too much, it does mean they may need to tinker with the coming budget.
- The numbers: The state reported under $4.8 billion in revenue for April 2023 — a 31.2% decrease from nearly $7 billion in April 2022 and $1.6 billion below what officials expected this year.
- View from the Corner Office: The Healey administration says they still support the tax relief plan moving through the State House. After the state saw big jumps in revenue during the pandemic, officials said they expected some slowdown and factored it into their plans. Healey’s administration says they’re “confident” they’ll be able to work with the Legislature “to manage the budget and close the fiscal year in balance.”
- Room for debate: Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President Jim Rooney agrees, saying the slowdown “doesn’t warrant the sounding of an alarm.” However, the progressive group Raise Up Massachusetts is sounding alarms, calling on lawmakers to drop parts of the tax relief plan that favor the well-off so the shortfall doesn’t lead to cuts to social programs. (Read State House News Service for more on what’s next.)
The Boston Common has come a long way from its Puritan roots. The acclaimed Massachusetts brewery Trillium is opening a beer garden this afternoon in America’s oldest public park. Located in the southeast corner of the Common (right by the Boylston T stop), the new beer garden can host over 400 people and has a 5,000-square-foot performance stage that will feature live music, DJs and comedy, thanks to a partnership with Emerson College.
- Zoom out: The new venue is just one part of Boston’s master plan to revamp the nearly 400-year-old Common with better facilities, dining options and greenery — and maybe even entice more people to visit downtown.
- Zoom in: “Trillium Garden on the Common” will be open from 4-9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12-8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 12-6 p.m. on Sunday. You can visit through Nov. 1.
- Fun fact: The beer garden is the first-ever alcohol-selling establishment to be located on the Common, according to the city.
- Did we mention there’ll be tacos? In addition to Trillium’s famous IPAs and sours, the beer garden will also serve tacos, tortas and snacks from Taqueria El Barrio. Check out the menu here.
Do you use Boston’s Southwest Corridor bike path? Then prepare for some slight detours. Today marks the beginning of resurfacing work and cobblestone removal on the path, which officials say will continue “until further notice.”
- The path will mostly remain open, but cyclists might have to get off their bikes and move onto the sidewalk in some areas.
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