In late July, 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 are again 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.
As of mid-September, about two-thirds of Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated, a stark contrast to the vaccination rate of the United States as a whole, which is currently hovering just below 55 percent. (Massachusetts currently has the fourth highest vaccination rate in the country; Vermont is first with nearly 69 percent now vaccinated.) But the recent case spike in Provincetown and increase in new cases statewide are causing some local governments and individual businesses to buckle back down a bit.
In hopes of helping to protect staff and customers, a small but growing number of local restaurants and music venues have announced that they are requiring 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. 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.”
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. (Currently, Cambridge and Provincetown seem to be the hotspots for vaccine requirements.) Know of other Massachusetts restaurants or venues with requirements in place? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. This list will be updated as more information becomes available.
This article was originally published on July 26, 2021; the most recent update was on September 16, 2021.
Restaurants and Entertainment Venues Requiring Proof of Vaccination
- City Winery (1 Canal St., Boston): The music venue and restaurant requires either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test (within 72 hours) for entry indoors. Masks are also required indoors.
- Gray’s Hall (615 E. Broadway, Boston): The South Boston wine bar requires proof of vaccine for indoor dining (the card or a picture of it) as of August 6, while anyone can sit on the patio. “Get vaxxed and come party with us.”
- Jacques Cabaret (79 Broadway, Boston): The nightclub isn’t requiring proof of vaccination for entry into the venue, but those who show a clear photo of their vaccine card will get a stamp that allows them to go maskless once inside. All others will have to remain masked. This policy begins on August 6, 2021. “As leaders in this community, we feel that it is our responsibility to keep our spaces as safe as possible for all patrons, performers and staff,” the venue posted on Facebook. “Please help us to accomplish this goal and keep Jacques open and providing entertainment.”
- The Quiet Few (331 Sumner St., Boston): Shortly after finding out that someone at the bar tested positive and proceeding to have the whole staff tested, the Quiet Few decided to require proof of vaccination for all indoor diners. “Our recent closing was a high inside fastball. 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. If you do not want to show proof of vaccination, or are not vaccinated, that’s fine. You are welcome to join us on our patio. We’re working hard to make it available seven days a week. We hope you understand our position in this. And if you don’t agree, we hope we can mend our ways down the road.”
- Royale (279 Tremont St., Boston): Like other Bowery venues, the Royale requires proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours for events through the end of September 2021. Starting on October 1, proof of vaccination is required regardless of testing status.
- 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 ables 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 are recommended to wear masks indoors unless actively eating or drinking. Passim continues to offer livestream performances and online classes.
- Grendel’s Den (89 Winthrop St., Cambridge): The Harvard Square restaurant is requiring proof of vaccination (vaccine cards or photos of vaccine cards, along with a valid ID) for indoor dining. Outdoor seating is available for all.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Plough and Stars (912 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge): The intimate music venue asks all its live music attendees to present a certificate of vaccination or a copy of a vaccine card for entry. “The safety and health of our music attendees — and our Cambridge community at-large — is a vital concern.”
- The Sinclair (52 Church St., Cambridge): Like other Bowery venues, the Sinclair requires proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours for events through the end of September 2021. Starting on October 1, proof of vaccination is required regardless of testing status.
- State Park (1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge): As of September 16, 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.”
- 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.”
- The Art House (214 Commercial St., Provincetown): The performing arts venue is requiring proof of vaccination.
- The Boatslip (161 Commercial St., Provincetown): Those attending seasonal outdoor dance party Tea Dance must show their vaccine card or a photo of it for entry.
- The Crown and Anchor (247 Commercial St., Provincetown): “You have to assume everybody is asymptomatic at this point,” co-owner Rick Murray told the Herald, noting that a vaccine card is required for entry to the club.
- Governor Bradford (312 Commercial St., Provincetown): Those who want to attend karaoke at the bar must show their vaccine cards.
- Backbar (7 Sanborn Ct., Somerville): The Union Square bar is requiring proof of vaccination for entry.
- 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] 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.)
Nearby Cities Beyond Massachusetts
- Big King (3 Luongo Sq., Providence, Rhode Island): The restaurant is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within the last 48 hours; show your card at the door or email a photo of your card, vaccine record, or negative test before the meal. “Is this a pain in the ass? Yes. Do I want to do it? No. Do I think people should get vaccinated? Yes. Do I think they should be forced? No. But do I want to live with the anxiety of someone in my dining room or on staff being on a ventilator, or one of my cooks having long term changes to the way taste and smell things (this has happened to a family member), potentially ruining their career? Do i want to go back to just doing takeout? Absolutely not. The work we do right now, in this small intimate room, seven people working in concert to create something special — it’s too important to me. I’ll close first. And maybe this will cause us to close. That’s ok.”
- North (122 Fountain St., Providence, Rhode Island): Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test in the last 48 hours is required for indoor dining (a physical copy, electronic copy, or photo of the vaccine card or test results). Nothing is required for outdoor dining — unless, in the case of inclement weather, you have the opportunity to move inside, in which case you’d have to provide the documentation.
- Oberlin (186 Union St., Providence, Rhode Island): The restaurant is requiring masks and proof of vaccination (either the card or a photo of it) for dining both indoors and out. “We hope you can appreciate that this move is in the interest of safety for you, and for us. We understand that there are reasons for not being vaccinated, and we hope to see those of you again in future!”
- Portland Hunt & Alpine Club (75 Market St., Portland, Maine): The restaurant and cocktail bar asks that all indoor diners be fully vaccinated. Outdoor dining is open to anyone, regardless of vaccination status.