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Boston's Proof Of Vaccine Mandate Could Be Dropped 'In The Next Few Days,' Mayor Wu Says

BOSTON (CBS) -- As case numbers and hospitalizations continue to decline in the northeast, Boston appears to be days away from lifting the COVID proof of vaccination mandate.

"If the numbers continue along the trends that we're seeing, we could see this policy lifted even in the next few days or so," Boston Mayor Michelle Wu told reporters Tuesday. "So we'll cross that bridge if we come to it, but I'm urging everyone to continue the progress, continue following protections, and making sure that we are encouraging all of our family and friends to get vaccinated because we are seeing very, very good progress in terms of the metrics here."

Wu previously said Boston will drop the proof of vaccination mandate if three things happen: Capacity of ICU beds is below 95%, the number of daily COVID hospitalizations drops below 200, and the COVID positivity rate dips below 5%.

As of Tuesday, the mayor said Boston's ICU capacity is at 90%, which already meets one threshold. There are currently has 278 COVID hospitalizations a day, and a 5.4% COVID positivity rate -- both of those numbers need to drop.

The city has just entered the second phase of the B-Together policy. Starting Tuesday, everyone 12 and older must now show proof of full vaccination to enter places where it's required, such as restaurants, gyms, museums and movie theaters. Up until then, proof of only one dose was needed for that group.

If necessary, another phase would kick in on March 1, when children aged 5-11 will have to show proof of one dose of the vaccine in order to get into certain indoor spaces.

Verification can be done by showing a vaccine card, a digital picture of a vaccine card, a picture of any official immunization record, a city-designated app, or any other COVID vaccine verification app.

Tufts Epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron says now is the time to move forward as case numbers drop drastically following the latest surge.

"We have reached this point of high levels of immunity; we have reached this point of everybody has the tools to protect themselves in a way they never did before," Dr. Doron said.

At the Beehive Restaurant in Boston's South End, COVID protocols have not caused any major issues. "Our guests have been very respectful of mask mandates," said A.J. Merritt. "But we also recognize that it does become a bit of an imposition for guests if guests somehow feel like they're forced to do something."

Some businesses, like Fitness and Fuel, a personal training studio in Brighton, instituted their own vaccine policy long before the city's mandate. Owner Jack Losey said he plans to keep their vaccine policy in place even after the city's COVID restrictions are lifted.

"For us, we're going to do whatever we need to do to stay in business. Obviously, we all know it's been a tough road for gyms and the restaurant industry. Whatever we need to do to stay in business is what we're going to do and obviously, we want to keep people healthy and safe," said Losey.

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