Unvaccinated People Will Be Barred From Here, Starting Tomorrow
Vaccine requirements are expanding in some places even as COVID numbers fall.
After a few tumultuous months, the U.S. is slowly returning to a better place with the COVID pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both cases and hospitalizations have been rapidly declining recently following record highs set in Jan. 2022. Over the last week, new infections have decreased by 42.8 percent and new hospital admissions have fallen by 25.4 percent. But as we've seen time and again, numbers can always rise back up again. So even as the country is seeing major signs of improvement following the Omicron surge, some local officials are still gearing up to implement more restrictions and prevent future outbreaks.
Vaccine requirements in Boston are expanding this week. Starting Feb. 15, anyone 12 years of age or older will be required to show proof of full COVID vaccination to enter certain businesses in the city like restaurants, theaters, sporting venues, bars, and clubs, NBC 10 Boston reported. Mayor Michelle Wu first announced this order, B Together, in December, with the first deadline falling on Jan. 15, requiring people 12 and over to present proof of a least one COVID vaccine dose.
"The best tool we have to end the ongoing COVID surge, reduce hospitalization rates, and save lives is for everyone to get vaccinated," Wu said in a Jan. 15 statement. "We are putting this measure in place to help safeguard our residents, our businesses, and our community."
The mandate is set to continue rolling out in Boston into spring 2022. According to the B Together order, children ages five to 11 will be required to show proof of one vaccine dose starting March 1. And then by May 1, everyone five years or older will be officially required to have proof of full vaccination before entering these indoor spaces.
While Boston is extending its vaccine mandate, some cities are starting to pull back on their own. On Feb. 10, Minnesota's Twin Cities Mayors Melvin Carter and Jacob Frey made a joint statement announcing that the cities would be ending their vaccine requirement for restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, the Star Tribune reported. Now, people in Minneapolis and St. Paul no longer need to show proof of vaccination to enter these indoor spaces.
It's possible that other cities, including Boston, could end up lifting their restrictions in the coming months as well. Mayor Wu said on Feb. 8 that the city may soon end its vaccine mandate for indoor restaurants and other businesses if COVID hospitalizations and case numbers continue to fall, per the Boston Globe. According to Wu, Boston needs to meet three benchmarks to do so: the occupancy rate of beds in the city's ICU falls below 95 percent, the city has fewer than 200 hospitalizations per day, and the community positivity rate goes below 5 percent.
Boston has yet to meet this criteria, but it does appear to be on its way. According to data from the Boston Health Commission, as of Feb. 9, the city has around 362.9 hospitalizations per day and only a 89.6 percent occupancy rate for ICU beds. And as of Feb. 7, the city's positivity rate is at 6.9 percent. "The data makes clear that Boston's policies to boost vaccination and public health have been working, and we are coming down from the recent Omicron-driven surge," Wu said.