Newton, Boston, Metro

Boston Issues New Vaccine Requirements, Newton Not Yet to Follow

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced new vaccine requirements in certain indoor businesses throughout the city in a release from Boston’s Public Health Commission. The new requirements will affect indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment facilities starting in January.

“Vaccines are the most powerful tool we have to fight this pandemic,” Wu said in the release. “Vaccination saves lives, and closing vaccination gaps is the best way to support and protect our communities, businesses, and cultural institutions during this pandemic.”

People of ages 12 and up are required to show proof of one vaccine dose by Jan. 15 and proof of full vaccination by Feb. 15 to enter select businesses, according to the release. Children ages five to 11 are required to show proof of one vaccine dose starting March 1 and full vaccination starting May 1, according to the release.

The release reported that several Greater Boston municipalities, including Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Salem, and Arlington, announced similar requirements on Monday as part of a coordinated effort to curb the winter surge of COVID-19.

The City of Newton is not unveiling new vaccination requirements, according to a written statement to The Heights from Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and Commissioner of Health and Human Services Linda Walsh. The two encouraged businesses to consider vaccine requirements of their own.

“We will continue to watch the ever changing conditions and updated medical information on the virus and to consider adopting a policy like the one announced by Boston today and other public health measures,” Fuller and Walsh wrote in the statement. “The primary goal of the recently announced Boston mandate is to encourage vaccination. We share this goal and are pleased that 95% of eligible Newton residents are vaccinated.”

The release cited a surge in COVID-19 cases as a call for the new requirements. Every county in Massachusetts reported more new cases from Nov. 28 to Dec. 11 than the previous two-week period, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. Wu said in the release that most people undergoing hospitalization due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“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,” she said in the release.

Also on Monday, Wu announced updated vaccine requirements affecting city workers. All city employees without a granted medical or religious exemption are required to receive vaccination on the same timeline as business patrons, according to the release. Previously, workers could opt to receive regular tests instead of vaccination.

According to the release, businesses not in compliance with the new requirements will be subject to verbal and written warnings, as well as fines for repeated violations. The city also announced plans to create an app—modeled on New York City’s Key to NYC app—that allows residents to show proof of vaccination in the release.

Boston implements COVID-19 guidance partly based on vaccine trends, according to the release, which reports that 68 percent of city residents are fully vaccinated.

A list of ongoing vaccination sites can be found on the city of Boston’s website. The municipality will also roll out new sites across the city, according to the report.

“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,” Wu said in the release. “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.”

Featured Image by Johnathan Ye / Heights Senior Staff

December 20, 2021