Following New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio's announcement that New Yorkers will have to show proof of vaccination to enter most indoor businesses, the mayor of Boston said her city would not be following suit, claiming that the move is reminiscent of slavery.
When asked on Tuesday about New York City's new mandate requiring proof of vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues, Acting Mayor Kim Janey said "there's a long history" in the United States of people "needing to show their papers," according to WCVB.
"There's a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers," said Janey. "During slavery, post-slavery, as recent as you know what immigrant population has to go through here. We heard Trump with the birth certificate nonsense. Here we want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionally impact BIPOC communities."
"Instead, you want to lean in heavily with partnering with community organizations, making sure that everyone has access to the lifesaving vaccine. As it relates to people who want to encourage their workforce to get vaccinated. We certainly support that," Janey continued.
Janey became the first woman and black Boston mayor after former Mayor Marty Walsh resigned to become President Joe Biden's labor secretary.
Janey's comments sparked backlash from a City Councilor, who slammed Janey's comparisons to slavery.
"When we are combating a deadly virus & vaccine hesitancy in some communities, this kind of rhetoric is dangerous," City Councilor Andrea Campbell tweeted. "Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism. We are too close to give ground to COVID. Science is science. It's pretty simple – Vax up and mask up."
Later on Tuesday at a block party, Janey responded to Campbell's criticism by clarifying her earlier comments.
"What I said was there is a long history of asking people to show their papers," Janey explained, according to the Boston Globe. "What our focus here in Boston is in making sure that everyone has access to the vaccine, making sure that we are doing everything to vaccinate our workforce in the city of Boston, making sure that our residents have access to the vaccine."
A press release was also issued by Janey's office continuing to clarify her comments on Tuesday.
"Earlier today, I pointed out several hurdles facing communities of color with lower vaccination rates. These hurdles should not be excuses, but we must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery," said Janey, according to WCVB.
Janey went on to state that there are no current plans for a mask mandate at businesses, and that they would continue to assess data to "inform targeted public health strategies.
"COVID-19 cases have increased in Boston with the emergence of the Delta variant, but we are still well below threshold levels that have guided policy decisions throughout the pandemic. Work with our business community will continue, as we learn to live with COVID-19," she said.
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