Boston implements vaccine mandate for indoor dining, entertainment venues amid rise of omicron variant
The requirement will go into effect starting Jan. 15
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced a new citywide mandate requiring proof of vaccination for individuals ages 12 and up when entering indoor spaces.
Wu, during a COVID-19 press briefing Monday, announced the requirement, which demands proof of vaccination when entering bars, restaurants, indoor fitness venues, and indoor entertainment venues like sports games and theaters. It will go into effect on Jan. 15
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Wu introduced the mandate as the "Be Together" initiative.
"Customers or patrons ages 12 and up and employees at these locations will be required to show proof that they've received at least one dose of the vaccine," Wu said Monday. "And this will phase in to requiring two doses on February 15. We're also setting dates for children to be vaccinated to enter these spaces beginning in March."
Wu also announced a new mandate requiring all Boston city officials to be fully vaccinated by Feb. 15 in order to work for the city.
"I want to thank everyone who works for the city of Boston because we are already at more than 90% of city workers vaccinated under the existing policy, which has either a vaccination or weekly testing option," Wu said Monday, noting the new mandate will remove the "weekly testing option to move for full vaccination."
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As for the uptick in COVID-19 cases amid the new omicron variant, Wu said vaccination "is the most powerful tool we have to fight this pandemic," touting the nearly 70% of fully vaccinated Bostonians.
But executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission Dr. Bisola Ojikutu warned of the omicron variant, noting that the city is "currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases."
"New cases in our city has increased almost 90% compared to two weeks ago," Ojikutu said, noting that the most recent city-wide positivity rate has reached 6.7%.
"Hospitalizations are also increasing and frankly, our hospital resources are already stretched thin," Ojikutu added, noting that 229 adults are hospitalized with COVID each day in Boston— a figure that is "60% higher than it was two weeks ago."
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"Among those who are hospitalized with Covid-19, an estimated two thirds are unvaccinated," Ojitkutu said.
On December 15, the Boston Public Health Commission announced the identification of the first three confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Boston.
Health officials said Monday that based on omicron’s "extremely high transmissibility," they anticipate the case numbers in Boston to rise "significantly in January."
"The sheer number of cases that we anticipate will have a severe impact on our health care system," Ojitkutu said.