December 21, 2021


Governor Baker Issues Updated Statewide Mask Advisory


Effective December 21, 2021: In response to the spread of the Delta variant and the emerging Omicron variant, the Department of Public Health now advises that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home). The DPH particularly urges this recommendation if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.  Updated Advisory Regarding Masks and Face Coverings December 21, 2021


Boston Adopts New Vaccination Policy


This week, newly elected Mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu, announced big changes to the City of Boston’s COVID-19 vaccination policies.  Patrons and staff at indoor spaces in Boston, including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, fitness/gyms and entertainment venues, will be required to show proof of vaccination starting next month.  Wu was joined for her announcement by municipal officials from Salem, Somerville and Brookline, who along with Arlington and Cambridge, are expected to announce their own similar vaccination mandates soon.  Under the plan, businesses must post a public notice at the front entrance stating that proof of vaccination is required.  Signage is available online.  Also, businesses must then check proof of vaccination upon entry.  However, you do not need to check vaccination status for an entry for a quick and limited purpose, such as using the bathroom, placing an order, or making a delivery.  The policy takes effect on January 15, 2022, when workers and patrons age 12 and up will be required to show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  The policy then proceeds to phase in to require second dose verification and application to younger ages in the coming months.  Acceptable forms of proof of vaccination include the CDC vaccination card, a photo of the card, any official immunization record or digital image from a pharmacy or health care provider, or on any COVID-19 vaccine verification app.  The new policy may be found at Boston's B Together Initiative


OSHA Vaccination Emergency Temporary Standard


Late on Friday, the United States Court of Appeals granted the Department of Justice’s request to lift the stay that had been entered against OSHA’s Emergency Temporary COVID-19 standard.  A number of trade associations, including RAM’s partners at the National Retail Federation, have appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.  At present, it is unknown whether the Supreme Court will issue its own administrative stay while it considers the case.
The crux of the court’s opinion is that COVID-19 is inherently a grave workplace danger, and OSHA was well within its authority to prevent workplace exposure. The majority also found that OSHA had maintained appropriate flexibility in giving employers different options (test or vaccinate) for complying with the rule.
After the court’s decision, OSHA announced that the agency will not issue citations for noncompliance before January 10 for the assessment of employees. As for the weekly testing, that obligation will now commence February 9 “so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance.”
Given OSHA’s 23-day delay for implementation and the near certainty that the Supreme Court takes up the case, retailers who have not yet begun collecting vaccine status declarations may want to wait until after Christmas to begin doing so.  RAM will provide members updates as new developments become available.