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‘Overwhelmingly it’s been relief.’ Wu says business groups, residents back proof-of-vaccination policy in Boston

Mayor Wu pictured in November.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Tuesday said residents have voiced support for her newly announced requirement that restaurant, gym, and theater patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter such establishments.

Wu made the comments near the end of a City Hall briefing on affordable housing.

“I’ve had the chance to hear from so many Boston residents and businesses and leaders in our community,” Wu said. “Overwhelmingly it’s been relief that I’ve heard, that there are now clear rules and parameters that can help level the playing field and make sure everybody’s on the same page. I wish we were taking these actions faster. I know we are in the midst of a [COVID-19] surge right now, but we’re moving as quickly as we can. And we will work hand in hand with all of our businesses and affected organizations to ensure that we’re providing the signage, training, and direct conversations.”

Tuesday’s briefing came one day after Wu had announced - over the persistent din of an unruly group of protesters - new vaccine requirements for indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment establishments in the city.

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Beginning Jan. 15, patrons of affected businesses will be required to show proof of vaccination. Additionally, the city is requiring all its employees to be vaccinated and eliminating an option for city workers to be regularly tested instead of being vaccinated.

Under the new mandate, city workers will have until Jan. 15 to receive a first vaccine dose and until Feb.15 for the second dose, unless they are granted medical or religious exemptions.

Starting March 1, children ages 5 to 11 will have to show proof of at least one dose to get into restaurants and some other businesses, and that age group will have to show proof of full vaccination starting May 1. The new requirements for some indoor spaces will be enforced, after a lengthy outreach period, with penalties and fines.

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“Today, there will be a webinar, our first webinar with small businesses, to ensure that everybody is clear on what the resources are that are available to support this,” Wu said during Tuesday’s briefing. “We’re also launching weekly open sessions with various department heads in the city of Boston internally to make sure that we can talk through any questions.”

One thing she talked through during the briefing was the city’s mask mandate for indoor public spaces, which is stricter than a statewide advisory urging people to don face coverings in such spaces that the Baker administration unveiled earlier Tuesday.

“In Boston we have a mask mandate in place, and it’s very important that we continue to take precautions headed into the holiday season,” Wu said when asked Tuesday about the mandate issue. “And so, I’m happy that cities have the ability to go above and beyond what the state is doing.”

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.