Boston lifts vaccine mandate for stores, gyms, and restaurants but customers still need to wear face masks

·2 min read
A Boston restaurant.
Boston Mayor has lifted the proof of vaccination for businesses.Charles Krupa/AP
  • Boston has lifted its vaccine mandate for stores, gyms, and restaurants.

  • Businesses are no longer required to ask for proof of vaccinations, according to a press release.

  • A requirement to wear face masks in public indoor spaces remains in place.

Boston on Friday ended a contested COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses, which had been in place since January 15.

Stores, gyms, restaurants, and other indoor locations in the city of almost 700,000 people will no longer need to require customers to show proof of vaccination.

Mayor Michelle Wu said on Friday in a press release that the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 had fallen to 4%. She had previously said the mandate would end when the rate fell below 5%, AP reported.

The news follows a decision by Massachusetts health officials to drop its indoor mask guidance for most fully vaccinated people earlier this week.

Boston will still require its residents to wear masks in public indoor spaces.

Wu previously told Insider that the city was waiting for the vaccination rates to rise so that residents to be "fully free to go about their lives." The goal was to curb a spike in cases caused by the omicron variant. Around 71% of the city is fully vaccinated.

In the press release, Wu said lifting the mandate was "a win for every Bostonian who's done their part to keep our communities safe." She added: "We have to keep going."

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association had criticized the vaccine mandate over its financial impact in January. The association estimated that restaurants were losing up to $15,000 a week as a result.

Earlier this month, however, the city's chief of economic development, Segun Idowu, told Insider that the vaccine mandate had come into effect at the request of the city's small business owners.

The city has reported 1,686 deaths and 163,024 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

The Mayor's Office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, made outside of normal working hours.

Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Boston's director of public health, added in the statement that the city's response to the pandemic has been guided by science. She said: "We will continue to make data-driven decisions in our mitigation and response strategies in order to keep everyone safe."

Read the original article on Business Insider