Here Are The Places Debuting New Mask And Vaccine Mandates

Some places are reverting back to 2020-level restrictions.
TOPSHOT - A woman in a face mask walks by a sign posted on a boarded up restaurant in San Francisco, California on April, 1, 2020, during the novel coronavirus outbreak. - The US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 5,000 late on April 1, according to a running tally from Johns Hopkins University. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

If you felt some deja vu this month as you watched cities across the country announce new mask and vaccine mandates, you are not alone — 2020 feels like it’s back.

December saw a rash of new face mask and vaccine mandates in U.S. cities, Ivy League schools, and even statewide mandates as COVID-19 cases spike and the Omicron variant spreads.

Several major cities tightened their pandemic restrictions this month to levels New York City and Los Angeles reached months ago.

In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday announced a vaccine mandate for indoor dining at restaurants, gyms, and theaters. A day later on Tuesday, the Massachusetts health department announced a statewide mask advisory recommending that even vaccinated people wear a mask inside indoor public areas.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker also activated the National Guard this week and asked hospitals to halt all nonessential elective procedures to free up hospital beds.

Chicago announced similar restrictions this week. Starting January 3, everyone age 5 and older must show proof of vaccination if they want to eat indoors in a restaurant, go to the gym, or enter a theater. The city said that the new rules are “in response to an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally, driven in part by the Omicron variant.”

Washington, D.C., has had a very on-and-off history with its indoor mask mandate, but this week, the mask mandate went back into effect. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public health emergency and said that while she understands everyone is “tired of it,” the city must respond to changes in the pandemic. D.C. only lifted its mask mandate less than a month ago. Bowser also announced a vaccine mandate for D.C. government employees that includes booster shots, and there will no longer be an option to get tested for COVID instead.

New York and Los Angeles have had vaccine mandates for indoor dining for weeks, but this week, New York debuted a statewide indoor mask mandate. However, more than a dozen counties in New York have said they will refuse to enforce the mask mandate.

Meanwhile, some Ivy League schools are implementing stringent vaccine requirements as well.

Harvard University announced this month that the school will require students not only to be fully-vaccinated, but also to get their booster shots in order to return to campus. Harvard’s COVID cases spiked to an all-time high in December. The school’s administration said this month that the Omicron variant is “likely already present” on campus.

Johns Hopkins University announced that it will require faculty, staff, and students to get booster shots of a Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine by February 1.

Princeton, Brown, Boston University, and New York University have also mandated booster shots.

Even with multiple vaccines, many localities and institutions have decided that it is not yet time to move beyond COVID restrictions and are carrying them into the third year of the pandemic.

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