The city of Boston is getting closer to lifting its vaccine mandate as public health metrics continue to improve.
Mayor Michelle Wu said Wednesday that it could be a matter of days before people can got to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, fitness centers and other indoor entertainment venues without first proving that they’re vaccinated, even as her administration plans to fight a court decision halting enforcement of her vaccine mandate for city workers.
Key measurements show the virus’s impact on the city is waning after a omicron-driven winter surge. The latest COVID wastewater data shows that the Boston area is now at pre-surge levels. New data unveiled this week showed the levels back down to where they were in early December, before cases started to spike dramatically.
The second phase of Boston’s vaccine requirements took effect Tuesday, requiring anyone age 12 or older to show proof that they have received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
Wu identified three data points that need to meet a certain threshold in order to roll back the vaccine mandate, all based on a seven-day average. Those metrics include: a community positivity rate below 5%, fewer than 95% of ICU beds occupied at Boston hospitals and fewer than 200 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day.
Currently, Boston meets two of the three requirements Wu said are needed to rescind the vaccine mandate. Only daily hospitalizations remain above the threshold. Boston is averaging around 236.7 hospitalizations per day.
Wu visited businesses on Thursday to check on vaccine mandate enforcement and its impact. The mayor was optimistic about the city’s latest health data.
“I think for everyone, January has been slow because of the weather, because of the blizzard, because of the pandemic still, but it really feels like there’s a lot of hope on the horizon and as long as we keep going in the right direction, things are already picking up,” Wu said.
Mayor Michelle Wu’s mandate, announced in December, requires all 19,000 city employees to be vaccinated and was originally set to take effect on January 15, 2022. There has been an ongoing back and forth between the mayor’s office and the city’s labor unions.
Wu’s vaccine mandate for city employee vaccine continues to be held up in court with ongoing issues between the city, and it’s labor unions. Unions representing first responders in the city of Boston breathed a sigh of relief after a judge temporarily blocked the mayor’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees from moving forward on Tuesday.
The city of Boston plans to appeal the decision, which hinges on the right for the union to bargain over this. But Wu said this is about protecting everyone, including those union employees.