Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced on Thursday that all city employees must report their COVID-19 vaccination status or submit to weekly testing. But the testing mandate will be phased in during two months.
The updated policy applies to all city employees, onsite contractors and volunteers who provide services onsite at city worksites. That includes all full-time, part-time, seasonal, emergency and probationary workers. The requirement to report one's vaccination status doesn't begin until August 30, when employees can begin to upload their vaccination verification information into the Vaccination Verification online portal.
“Our purpose is to protect our employees and the public, and our work is rooted in public health guidance and based on data and science,” said Janey. “I am grateful for the continued collaboration with our municipal unions to ensure the safety of our entire workforce and the residents we serve.”
Vaccinations and testing will be offered free of charge at various times and locations throughout Boston, including at City Hall, for those who have not yet been vaccinated. And to help encourage vaccinations the city will conduct a weekly lottery for which the winner will be granted an extra week of paid time off. The lottery is for all benefit eligible employees who verify their full vaccination status during the preceding week, and will be automatically entered into the lottery.
The new city policy comes after several weeks of mayoral candidates chiding Janey for not doing it sooner.
“This is overdue. Nearly two weeks ago I called for all city of Boston employees to be vaccinated or provide weekly test results to protect their health and the health of the public. This should have been implemented last month when Acting Mayor Janey required employees to come back to City Hall full time," said John Barros.
Barros said the city needed to go further and institute a mask mandate. He added that if Janey doesn't act, he would like Governor Charlie Baker to do so.
Mayoral candidate and At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu called Janey's announcement a "half-measure" and that vaccination regulations for high-risk indoor spaces like gyms, salons, and restaurants need to be instituted.
Mayoral candidate and District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell agreed that proof of vaccination should be required for spaces such as restaurants, gyms, and concert venues, as New York City has done. She called on the city to provide a cash incentive of $100 for people to get vaccinated. She added that regular COVID-19 testing of Boston Public School students and staff should be required to catch outbreaks early.
Campbell previously announced that her campaign is requiring all staff to be fully vaccinated, and is encouraging other campaigns to follow suit.