Starting January 15, 2022, anyone looking to dine indoors at Boston restaurants and bars will be required to show proof of vaccination, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced on Monday, December 20, responding to a current surge in COVID-19 cases. Other local communities — including Cambridge, Brookline, Medford, Arlington, Salem, and Somerville — are reportedly expected to follow suit soon, although not necessarily on the same timeline.
The Boston mandate, which will be in effect indefinitely, applies to people 12 and over to start — customers as well as employees — who will be required to show proof that they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Starting February 15, proof of two doses will be required. On March 1, children five to 11 will have to have proof of the first dose; two doses will be required starting on May 1. As of the end of November, 67 percent of Boston residents have been fully vaccinated.
In addition to restaurants, many other indoor venues are included in the mandate, such as gyms, music venues, sports venues, movie theaters, and more. Proof can be the actual vaccination card from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; a photo or copy of the card; pharmacy or healthcare provider records; or a vaccine verification app (Boston is creating one.)
The mandate does not require proof of vaccination for those entering buildings for “quick and limited purposes,” such as using a restroom, picking up a takeout order, or performing necessary repairs.
Alongside the new mandate, Wu also announced that all city employees (except for those with religious or medical exemptions) must be vaccinated along the same timeline. A previous option for regular testing will no longer be available.
Boston also continues to observe an indoor mask mandate that was put in place in September; masks are required in public indoor settings, unless one is actively eating and drinking.
Several other cities have begun to require proof of vaccination for indoor dining, too, including New York City, which enacted its mandate back in August 2021, and Philadelphia, which announced last week that proof would be required starting on January 3.