Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said her office has been bombarded with racist comments since her announcement of vaccine requirements for entry into indoor establishments.
Driving the news: On Monday, Wu said that individuals entering indoor spaces for dining, fitness and entertainment must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination starting January 2022. The policy has been introduced as “B Together.”
- Next year, all patrons,employees and everyone else aged 12 and above must provide proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Jan. 15 onward, while proof of two doses will be required starting on Feb. 15.
- Children aged 5-11 must provide proof of at least one dose starting on March 1. From May 1 onward, people aged 5 and above must provide proof of full vaccination.
- The requirement covers three categories: indoor dining, which includes bars and restaurants; indoor fitness, which includes gyms and dance studios; and indoor entertainment, which includes movie theaters, museums and professional sports arenas.
- Acceptable forms of proof include a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination card, a photo of that card or a photo of any official immunization record. Proof can also be shown through the City of Boston app or a COVID-19 vaccine verification app.
- “Today we are facing another winter surge with the Omicron variant, but there is a key difference between last winter and today: vaccines,” Wu said on Monday, as per WBUR. “Vaccines are the most powerful tool we have to fight this pandemic.”
- City employees who have not been vaccinated must comply “by the Jan. 15 deadline as a condition of employment.” Wu said more than 90% of Boston’s 18,000 workers have already received a vaccination, according to NBC Boston.
What critics are saying: Wu’s policy received both criticism and support. According to Wu, some of her critics even sent racist and hateful messages to her office.
- On Twitter, several users are referring to Wu as “Mayor Wuhan” and “Michelle Wuhan.”
- “‘Mayor Wuhan’ is a fantastic moniker,” one user wrote.
- “Michelle Wuhan just crippled people’s businesses,” another user wrote. “She clearly works for China.”
- Protesters also gathered outside Boston City Hall on Monday, chanting “USA!” and singing lines from the national anthem.
- They were joined by Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, who called the vaccine requirements “clear violations of the civil rights of anyone who lives in, works in or travels to the city, and will make it even more difficult for Boston’s economy to recover from the pandemic.”
The big picture: Wu, the first woman and first person of color elected as Boston’s mayor, told Boston Public Radio that she receives “another dozen hateful messages” every time she opens her phone. She said her experience is shared by other women of color and people of color in leadership positions, notably Asian Americans, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- “I’ve grown up my whole life knowing what it feels like to feel invisible or othered, and this is an experience that far too many Americans share,” Wu said, according to GBH News. “Standing at the podium, hearing the demonstrators who were opposing our policies singing patriotic songs and chanting ‘USA’ — the message was clear that we don’t belong here in their eyes, and shouldn’t be trying to take away something that they perceive they have and are losing.”
- Despite the opposition, Wu remains steadfast in implementing her policy. “This is the right thing to do, and we’re not going to be intimidated away from doing it,” she said, as per the Boston Globe.