Boston Vaccine Passport Mandate Will Be Bad For Business, Critics Say

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Boston will take a further step to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus starting this weekend — and some say it will hurt businesses in the city.

Last month, the city’s mayor Michelle Wu announced a coronavirus vaccine passport mandate would go into effect starting on Saturday, January 15. Under the rule, people ages 12 and up must show proof that they have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine to enter restaurants, bars, nightclubs, fitness facilities, and entertainment venues in the city. That’s in addition to the city’s indoor mask mandate.

On February 15, the vaccine passport is scheduled to become more strict, requiring at least two doses of the vaccine to enter those kinds of facilities.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spokesman Paul Craney and Christopher Carlozzi, state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, told NewBostonPost on Friday that the measure will hurt businesses in the city.

Craney said that the state has already had enough coronavirus restrictions in place that hurt businesses financially — and rectifying that should be the primary concern.

“Boston needs an economic recovery plan but that does not seem to be a priority for the new Mayor,” Craney wrote in an email message. “Instead, she is more concerned with imposing more restrictions and bans, in order to feel like she is doing something. It’s an easy way out for a politician, instead of dealing with the effects of the pandemic, which touches every industry and every population, she is just imposing arbitrary bans and regulations that will do very little to protect anyone from the virus.”

Carlozzi said that small businesses have enough problems already without adding yet another regulation.

“All of these newly imposed local health mandates and restrictions will serve as an additional burden for small businesses struggling to survive,” Carlozzi wrote in an email message. “Businesses that can barely find enough workers to staff their operations will now be placed in the unfortunate position of enforcing local health policies. 

“Businesses are better suited to make the decisions on how best to keep their customers and workers safe, not one-size-fits-all local mandates. Small businesses are still in an extremely fragile state and will never fully recover if local governments continue to pile on burdensome restrictions that inhibit economic growth.”

Of the dozen people who spoke in favor of the vaccine passport mandate during Wu’s December 20 press conference, only two responded to NewBostonPost’s request for comment on Friday. One was Dinanyili Paulino, chief operating officer of La Colaborativa. It’s an organization that helps provide social services for Latino immigrants in the Boston area.

She told NewBostonPost in an email message that she thinks the new rule will help keep workers safe

“Vaccination is one of our best tools to protect workers and ultimately keep our communities open for business,” Paulino wrote. “Restaurant workers are essential workers and they have the right to feel protected at their workplaces. It’s also my hope that the vaccine mandate will help people feel more comfortable resuming some activities in Boston like eating in restaurants and shopping at local businesses, knowing the risks of being seriously impacted by COVID have been minimized by the vaccine mandate.”

On Friday, the press office for Boston mayor Michelle Wu referred NewBostonPost to the statement that Wu made on the policy on December 20, 2021, when she announced the policy.

Here is what Wu said at the time:


Vaccines are the most powerful tool we have to fight this pandemic. Vaccination saves lives, and closing vaccination gaps is the best way to support and protect our communities, businesses, and cultural institutions during this pandemic, The vast majority of COVID-related hospitalizations are of unvaccinated individuals, which is impacting our entire healthcare system and compromising the health of our communities. Today’s steps to protect community members in certain indoor establishments and throughout our city workforce will help ensure that everyone in Boston will be safe. City government must take down barriers and direct our resources for easy access to testing and vaccination to protect our city and all of our communities.


Villa Mexico Cafe owner Bessie King offered support for the policy as well.

King also responded to NewBostonPost’s request for comment. She said that she thinks the vaccine passport will help restaurants survive.

“At our restaurant we support the mandate for our team and our customers to be in a safe environment,” she wrote. “Our restaurant industry has struggled to survive for two years now and without any more financial relief from our state or federal government we need to stay open to survive. This means we must ensure our kitchens and our dinings rooms are safe for all and through vaccinations we will be able to combat this latest surge, continue operating, and care for each other. Hopefully our community joins us in this survival effort by doing a very simple but important thing, which is to get vaccinated.” 
The Massachusetts Restaurants Association could not be reached for comment on Friday.
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