Michelle Wu addresses the press after she is sworn-in as Mayor in Boston, Massachusetts, November 16, 2021. (Faith Ninivaggi/Reuters)

Following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s example in New York City, newly elected progressive Boston mayor Michelle Wu has imposed a vaccine requirement for patronizing indoor businesses.

Effective January 15, 2022, the directive requires that individuals present proof of vaccination as a condition of entry for indoor dining at restaurants and bars, indoor entertainment, recreational, and event venues, and indoor gyms and fitness settings.

Establishments must post public notice at their front entrances stating that proof of vaccination is required to obtain their services, per the mandate. The order will be implemented in phases.

By January 15, people aged twelve and up must show proof of one dose to enter businesses. By February 15, people aged twelve and up must show proof of two doses to enter businesses. On March 1, the mandate extends to children aged five to eleven, who must show proof of one dose. On May 1, every individual aged five and up must be fully vaccinated to enter. The order does not currently include the booster shot.

Individuals can present the physical CDC card, an official immunization record, a  city-designated app with a digital image of any official immunization record, or another COVID-19 vaccine verification app, including the Clear Health Pass, Common Pass, Key to NYC, VaxYes, IATA Travel Pass, and the Excelsior Pass. Unlike in New York City, where an accompanying photo ID is needed with proof of vaccination, only the latter will be necessary in Boston.

“The best way for Boston to stay healthy and support our communities, our businesses, and cultural institutions is for more people to get vaccinated. The B Together policy helps us do that,” the website reads.

Despite the new directive, Boston’s indoor mask mandate remains in effect. As for enforcement: “Once the COVID-19 vaccine requirement takes effect in January of 2022, city inspectors will make checks for compliance. Businesses who are found not in compliance will receive a warning. If businesses continue not to comply, they may be fined or face other enforcement action.” Patrons are encouraged to report businesses that are not complying with the order.

“There is currently no requirement in the policy to have a booster to enter indoor establishments. The Public Health Commission may modify this provision in the future, in consultation with public health data and guidance from the CDC,” it says.

Wu’s move is a departure from the position of former Boston acting mayor Kim Janey, a black woman, who compared the vaccine passport to racist Jim Crow and Civil Rights era rules that effectively disenfranchised African Americans from society.

“There’s a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers — whether we are talking about this from the standpoint of, you know, during slavery, post-slavery, as recent as, you know, what the immigrant population has to go through,” she said.

Janey noted that such a mandate in Boston would exclude the residents of minority-concentrated neighborhoods, such as Mattapan and East Boston, from participating in many activities.

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