Mayor Wu this morning announced "one more step" in an aggressive battle against Covid-19: Starting Jan. 15, everybody over 12 entering private venues in Boston will have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination.
The policy applies to both visitors and workers at these locations. Wu added that that is also the deadline for Boston city workers to show proof of vaccination - she is eliminating a current city alternative that lets employees who don't want to get shots to show weekly proof of a negative test.
Under the policy, by Jan. 15, people over 12 who want to eat in a Boston restaurant or go to a theater, gym or sports event will have to show they've gotten at least one shot. After Feb. 15, they will have to show proof of two shots. The age will be lowered to 5 years on March 1.
The same dates apply to city workers, she said. The Boston firefighters union, which has long opposed mandatory vaccination, is already looking at possible legal action.
Wu said some 80% of Bostonians have already gotten one shot; 70% both.
Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission said Covid-19 numbers up 90% over 2 weeks ago, Boston's test positivity rate is now 6.7% and there 369 new diagnoses a day. She said there are 229 people in the hospital, up 60% from 2 weeks ago and that two-thirds of the hospitalized are unvaccinated.
Ojikutu kept speaking even as a small group of protesters entered City Hall's lobby, sang the Star-Spangled Banner then began chanting loudly, their voices amplified far beyond their numbers because the City Hall atrium is a giant echo chamber. They booed when Ojikutu announced the city would be making free rapid test kits available at libraries, community centers and other places.
As outgoing Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone began speaking, they started blowing whistles. Curtatone had to scream about what he and other officials are doing to try to save lives in a state that will soon surpass 20,000 deaths from the virus.
Among the screamer organizers: Tony Federico, who lives nowhere near Boston, but who seems to like to come to Boston to yell. Also among the screamers: Trump-supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl. Diehl also doesn't live in Boston.
Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, Downtown) said: "We stand with the mayor and her team today. This is a difficult decision the mayor made, but it's based on science."
The new policy, Wu said, will help reduce the strain on exhausted Boston hospitals - and small businesses, which she said "have been forced to act on their own" for so long.
Vaccinations, she said, remain our strongest tool against Covid-19.
She added that, starting tomorrow, the city will be announcing new vaccination clinics, in particular in minority and low-income neighborhoods, which have continued to lag behind other city neighborhoods in getting shots.
More information from city.