On December 20, 2021, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced a proof-of-vaccination mandate for many indoor spaces within the city of Boston — restaurants, gyms, theaters, and more — that took effect on January 15, 2022, while COVID-19 numbers, especially tied to the omicron variant, were on the rise in the city and beyond. It was the first vaccine mandate of its kind in the Boston area, and Brookline and Salem quickly followed suit, with other communities, such as Cambridge and Somerville, initially signaling interest as well but later rejecting the idea.
Salem dropped both its proof-of-vaccine mandate and indoor mask mandate on February 8, 2022; Boston dropped its vaccine mandate on February 18, 2022; and Brookline followed on February 22, 2022. (Boston and Brookline still require indoor masking at this time.)
Massachusetts seemed to pass the peak of the omicron surge in late January, wastewater data suggests, and Wu announced on February 8, 2022, that Boston’s proof-of-vaccination rules would wind down as the city met certain benchmarks: Bed occupancy in Boston’s intensive care units had to fall below 95 percent, Boston had to see fewer than 200 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day, and the community positivity rate had to drop below 5 percent. (The latter number was around 7 percent at the time, Wu said.) By February 18, 2022, the city met all the benchmarks, and the mandate was lifted as planned.
While state and city guidelines and mandates have been ever-changing, some individual businesses have been requiring proof of vaccination even as far back as summer 2021.
Back in late July 2021, nearly two months after Massachusetts lifted virtually all COVID-related requirements, Gov. Charlie Baker said he was not planning on reissuing any statewide mask mandates or advisories, although rising case numbers due to the delta variant started causing some cities and towns to make their own calls both in Massachusetts (see Provincetown and Nantucket) and elsewhere around the country (such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles). An increasing number of cities again began recommending or even requiring that everyone — vaccinated or not — wear masks indoors or where social distancing is not possible. Boston, for example, reinstated an indoor mask mandate on August 27, 2021.
Over the summer, in hopes of helping to protect staff and customers, a small but growing number of local restaurants and music venues started announcing that they would require proof of vaccination for indoor diners or show-goers.
“As small business operators we have a civic duty to take care of the health and safety of our guests and employees alike,” Tracy Chang told Eater in July 2021. Chang is the chef and owner of Pagu in Cambridge’s Central Square. “The past year has taught us just how vulnerable are the lives of essential hospitality workers, just how broken the existing hospitality industry is when it comes to wages, benefits, and welfare,” Chang continued. “We now have an opportunity to rebuild the industry to be a better, stronger one, starting one restaurant at a time. The least we can do is pay people more, check for proof of full vaccination, take temperatures at the door, and require masks indoors when not eating/drinking.”
Now, as of late February 2022, nearly 78 percent of Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated, a stark contrast to the vaccination rate of the United States as a whole, which is currently hovering around 65 percent. (Massachusetts currently has the fifth highest vaccination rate in the country; Rhode Island is first with 80.5 percent now vaccinated.) But earlier in the season, the rise of case counts and hospitalizations, along with questions about the potential impact of the omicron variant, caused some local governments and individual businesses to buckle in for another difficult winter.
Below, find a running list of local restaurants and entertainment venues requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining, show attendance, or specific types of events. This list is updated periodically; please email firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s something that should be added.
This article was originally published on July 26, 2021; the most recent update was on February 25, 2022.
Restaurants and Entertainment Venues Requiring Proof of Vaccination
Boston had a proof-of-vaccination mandate in place for indoor dining (and other indoor activities) from January 15, 2022, to February 18, 2022; an indoor masking mandate is still in place.
Some businesses adopted their own proof-of-vaccination policies earlier than the citywide mandate took effect, such as East Boston bar the Quiet Few, which implemented its policy in late summer shortly after finding out that someone at the bar tested positive and proceeding to have the whole staff tested. “Our recent closing was a high inside fastball,” the bar posted on its Instagram account. “We were brushed back. But we need to heed the warning. ... This decision did not come easily. It sucks. It’s tough. We hate it. But it needs to be done.”
The following Boston bars and restaurants are still requiring proof:
- Haley Henry (45 Province St., Boston): Proof required as of January 1, 2022.
- Nathálie (186 Brookline Ave., Boston): Proof required as of January 1, 2022.
- The Quiet Few (331 Sumner St., Boston): Proof of full vaccination required for entry.
- Atwood’s Tavern (877 Cambridge St., Cambridge): The East Cambridge pub and music venue reopened in early 2022 after extensive renovations. Proof of vaccination is required for indoor dining.
- Cambridge Common (1667 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): Proof of vaccination is required for indoor dining only. All are welcome on the sidewalk and backyard patios (six tables and 28 tables respectively).
- Club Passim (47 Palmer St., Cambridge): All staff, performers, and customers are required to show proof of vaccination (the card or the photo) upon entering the club; ticket purchases will be refunded for those who cannot or will not show proof. Non-performers must wear masks indoors unless actively eating or drinking. Passim continues to offer livestream performances and online classes.
- Dear Annie (1741 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): The Cambridge bar, which opened in fall 2021, is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for indoor seating. Outdoor seating on the heated patio is open without restrictions.
- Giulia (1682 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): Requiring proof of at least one COVID vaccination for everyone 12 and up for indoor seating as of January 15, 2022. (The patio is open to all, weather permitting.)
- Havana Club (288 Green St., Cambridge): The salsa club is requiring proof of vaccine (either the card or a photo of it) for entry.
- The Middle East (472-480 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): The Central Square restaurant and club is requiring proof of vaccination (vaccine cards or photos of vaccine cards) for those attending shows or dining. Those who have already purchased tickets to a show but will not be fully vaccinated in time can request a refund from the point of purchase. “We will be following the numbers and information out there and hope this is not a long term policy, but for now, it feels like the right thing to do,” the venue posted on Facebook.
- Oleana (134 Hampshire St., Cambridge): The restaurant requires proof of vaccination for everyone 12 and up.
- Pagu (310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): A statement from chef and owner Tracy Chang notes that the full Pagu team is vaccinated (Chang tells Eater that staff is also undergoing weekly COVID tests), but Chang is “continuing to monitor several factors” when making indoor dining policies, including vaccination rates locally and nationally, variants present in the state and nearby, and accessibility of vaccines for essential workers. In the meantime, masks are required indoors (when not actively eating or drinking). Customers dining indoors will also be asked for a temperature check, contact information, and proof of vaccination (a hard copy, email confirmation, or photo of document) with a government-issued photo ID. Outdoor dining is available to everyone regardless of vaccination status, as weather permits.
- Pammy’s (928 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): Requiring proof of vaccination from all customers as of January 24, 2022.
- Season to Taste (2447 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): Requiring proof of vaccination as of December 29, 2021. “We hate to provide any barrier to entry for our guests,” the restaurant posted on its website, “but strongly believe that vaccination is the best way to protect our staff and other guests from spreading Covid. Please be prepared to show either a vaccination card or a photo of your card to the host when you arrive.”
- The Sinclair (52 Church St., Cambridge): Like other Bowery venues, the Sinclair requires proof of vaccination. It is also required for indoor dining at the Sinclair’s restaurant, which reopened in mid-February 2022 with the team from Brato Brewhouse in the kitchen.
- State Park (1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge): As of September 16, 2021, State Park is requiring proof of vaccination for those who sit indoors and at the bar. “We know universal masking is a great way to prevent Covid-19, but in restaurant settings like ours, proof of vaccination for indoor dining guests is a more effective tool to combat the spread of Covid where social distancing and masking is less realistic. People who do not show proof of vaccination are welcome to sit outdoors or take their order to go. We want to create a comfortable space for our employees and patrons with this policy, by making it as safe an environment as possible to work and to visit.”
- Toad (1912 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): The intimate music venue reopened in February 2022 after a long pandemic hiatus; proof of vaccination is required. The venue is also 21+.
- Vincent’s (233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., Cambridge): Proof of vaccination required for indoor dining as of January 2022.
- Nightshade Noodle Bar (73 Exchange St., Lynn): Proof of vaccination is required to dine at Nightshade (the card, a photo of the card, or another official document proving vaccination status), and all diners must also remain masked when not seated. “This the best way we can protect the health of our team and of our guests when in our space. ... Thank you so much for supporting my little baby noodle bar through so much pandemic hell. We will continue to do our best to provide the safest experience and appreciate your understanding and support.”
On January 20, 2022, Somerville’s board of health shot down a citywide proof-of-vaccination mandate for indoor activities in a two-to-one vote. Some businesses have their own policies in place:
- Backbar (7 Sanborn Ct., Somerville): The Union Square bar is requiring proof of vaccination for entry.
- Dali (415 Washington St., Somerville): “All entering guests must be vaxed and masked unless eating/drinking. If you want Dali to stay OPEN, please protect our staff and each other!”
- Field & Vine (9 Sanborn Ct., Somerville): The restaurant is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result.
- Juliet (21 Union Sq., Somerville): Diners 12 and up most show proof of vaccination for indoor dining as of January 15, 2022.
- Rebel Rebel (1 Bow Market Way, Somerville): The tiny wine bar at Bow Market is requiring proof of vaccination for indoor seating. “We’ve decided to move forward with this new policy in response to recent CDC guidelines issued amid the rise of the Delta variant, and as a ‘best guess’ for what our government would likely be recommending if they were in the habit of exhibiting any kind of tangible leadership in the best interest of public health. This new policy is effective today [August 4, 2021] and will remain in effect until we decide it’s safe enough to stop. Until then, wash your hands, vote, and be good to each other.” (Masks, per the city of Somerville, are required indoors regardless of vaccination status.)
- Spoke Wine Bar (89 Holland St., Somerville): Proof of vaccination required for indoor dining.
- Tanám (1 Bow Market Way, Somerville): Proof of vaccination required for indoor diners over five years of age.