Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has just announced that the city will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor food, entertainment, recreation and fitness establishments. Other Greater Boston city leaders have also announced plans to implement vaccine proof warrants as part of a collective regional effort to address high rates of COVID-19 cases while preserving indoor gatherings. . The Phase I of Boston’s vaccine proof mandate, announced on December 20 and taking effect January 15, doesn’t leave companies much time to prepare. Here are eight things Boston employers need to know about the tenure:
- Who is covered: The Mayor’s Order requires the following Boston entities to verify the proof of vaccination status of full-time and part-time employees, interns, volunteers, on-site contractors and clients before allowing entry into the premises. interior spaces of:
- Catering establishments, including restaurants and bars, but excluding charitable catering services such as soup kitchens or businesses offering food and / or drink exclusively for off-premises or off-premises consumption;
- Indoor entertainment, recreation and event venues, including cinemas, concert and music halls, commercial event and party venues, museums and galleries, professional sports arenas and indoor stadiums, convention centers and exhibition halls, performing arts theaters and bowling alleys; and
- Gyms and fitness establishments, including commercial gyms, fitness rooms, yoga / Pilates / barre / dance studios, boxing / kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, indoor swimming pools and other facilities used to hold classes group fitness.
For the purposes of the Decree, a space will be considered “interior” if it has a roof or overhang and is surrounded by at least three walls.
- When: Before entering the interior parts of the covered entities, people will need to prove their immunization status according to the following staggered schedule.
- Phase 1: from the January 15th, people aged 12 and over must prove that they have received at least a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, in a single-dose or two-dose series;
- Phase 2: from the February 15, people 12 years of age and over must prove that they have received of them doses of a series of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines or a dose of a single dose series;
- Phase 3: from the 1st of March, people aged 5 to 11 must prove that they have received at least a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, in a single-dose or two-dose series; and
- Phase 4: from the May 1, people aged 5 and over must prove that they have received of them doses of a series of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines or a dose of a single dose series.
- Proof of vaccination: Acceptable forms of proof of vaccination are: (i) a card from the CDC COVID-19 vaccination record, or a digital image or digital or physical photograph of the card; (ii) any other official vaccination record from the jurisdiction, state or country where the vaccine was administered, or a digital or physical photograph of the record; (iii) a letter, digital image or report from a healthcare provider, pharmacy or vaccination site establishing proof of vaccination against COVID-19; or (iv) any vaccine verification smartphone application developed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or developed or approved by the City of Boston. Mayor Wu’s administration said it intends to develop its own smartphone app for this purpose.
- Signage requirement: All covered entities must display a sign, which will be available at boston.gov or pick up in cities, at their entrances. The sign will inform clients and others that they must be vaccinated to access the interior spaces of the covered entity.
- Consequences of non-compliance: Each instance in which a Covered Entity fails to verify an individual’s immunization status will be considered a separate prescription violation. The ordinance states that “all reasonable efforts” will be made to ensure voluntary compliance of entities through awareness and education, as well as written warnings. However, he also warns that consequences of non-compliance can include fines of $ 300 per violation and cease and desist orders from the Boston Public Health Commission.
- Limited exceptions: The following categories of people will be allowed to enter interior parts of Covered Entities without showing proof of vaccination, but only if they are wearing face masks: (i) People entering a Covered Entity for quick and limited reasons, such as using a toilet, placing or retrieving an order or service, making a delivery or making necessary repairs; (ii) performers who are not regularly employed by a Covered Entity and who are on site to perform; (iii) professional athletes / sports teams who enter a covered entity as part of their regular employment and to participate in competitions; and (iv) persons accompanying an entertainer or professional athlete / sports team to a covered entity as part of their regular employment, as long as the performer or professional athlete / sports team is performing or compete in the covered premises.
It is important to note that the decree also does not apply to public and non-public schools and programs from Kindergarten to Grade 12, child care programs, senior centers, community centers, locations in residential or office buildings that are restricted for use by residents, landlords or tenants, colleges or universities that have a vaccine requirement covering staff and students, or any other site that does not is not otherwise open to the general public.
- Employee accommodation: The Order is clearly silent on the subject of disability or religious objections to the mandate. However, covered entities are reminded that a mandate does not exempt them from their obligations under federal and state laws to provide accommodations to eligible employees. Employers are reminded that they must engage in the interactive process to determine if and how they can provide reasonable accommodation when needed. Each decision should be based on the facts of the employer’s workplace and other factors, such as whether the employee can work remotely, whether the employee can work alone, and the nature of the work and its interaction with it. other employees or customers.
- Client hosting: It is important to note that an employer’s obligation to customers differs significantly from its obligation to employees. As noted in our previous overview, accommodation situations with clients are fraught with pitfalls for the unwary. In its FAQ, the City reminds covered entities that it must enter into a dialogue with a client seeking accommodation, but that it can exclude an unvaccinated client if the client is a “direct threat”. Employers covered by the College would be advised to train their staff and have a plan in place when the first client requests accommodation or is not otherwise in a complaint with the College.
What should you do
Less than a month before the proof of vaccination warrant goes into effect, you must take immediate action to comply. This means ensuring that, if the Order applies to your business, the people working on your premises – including not only your employees, but also interns, volunteers and on-site contractors – have received their vaccines. It also means displaying the signage described above and preparing your employees to check the immunization statuses of customers and others entering interior spaces of your business, starting January 15, 2022.
The Boston Public Health Commission is expected to issue additional written guidelines on the vaccine evidence warrant.