Boston official says small businesses wanted the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, amid claim it’s costing restaurants up to $15,000 a week

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association says Boston restaurants are losing $10,000 to $15,000 a week because of the city’s vaccine mandate.

A trade group says Boston restaurants are losing up to $15,000 a week from the city’s vaccine mandate.
But a Boston official told Insider that small businesses polled by the city wanted the policy in place.
Boston has requested $5 million to support restaurants and entertainment venues, the official said.

A Boston official has responded to claims that restaurants are losing up to $15,000 a week from the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, saying that small businesses wanted the policy in place.

Segun Idowu, chief of economic opportunity and inclusion, told Insider that the mandate “actually drives confidence” for those who feel unsafe around crowds, and prevents confusion for patrons.

In a letter last week to Boston mayor Michelle Wu, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA) demanded she scrap new requirements to that customers must present proof of vaccination against COVID-19. The association said Boston restaurants were losing $10,000 to $15,000 a week because of the policy.

Idowu said the vaccine mandate came into effect because small business owners polled by the city thought it would be “helpful.”

He said: “We did a small business tour a couple of weeks ago before the mandate went into effect to check with small business owners to get a sense of not only their reaction to the mandate but what they needed to survive the winter.”

He added: “I understand the concerns raised by the MRA but everything we’re doing is in response to what we’re hearing from our non-profit and business support partners.”

Idowu said the city’s COVID-19 recovery committee had handed out more than $8 million to support about 600 small businesses. Wu recently requested a further $5 million to replenish the fund, prioritizing restaurants and entertainment venues, Idowu said.

The Boston Herald reported Friday that the city was offering to ease the strictness of its vaccine mandate by swapping in twice-a-week testing when the pandemic eases up.

Idowu said that the city’s vaccine mandate was reviewed every day by the mayor and director of public health.

The MRA did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

Restaurants have been hit hard by labor shortage as record numbers of workers quit their jobs because of low wages, a lack of benefits, the risk of catching COVID-19, and increasingly rude customers. 

Insider’s Avery Hartmans reported that restaurants are struggling to find employees as workers want more money and less customer harassment. The labor crunch is expected to last through 2022.

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Retail, News, Weekend BI UK, Restaurants, Boston, labor shortage, vaccine mandate, COVID-19

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