Revelers headed for a night out in Provincetown are being asked to carry two forms of ID following a sudden spike in cases — and public health experts say it might not be long before bars and nightclubs outside Cape Cod also start asking patrons to show CDC vaccine verification cards.
“As we’re seeing these cases increase, I think it’s completely reasonable for private businesses to be asking for proof of vaccination, particularly when you have a venue that has really high density,” state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, told the Herald.
At least a half dozen bars and nightclubs in the popular summer party town are now requiring official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine cards upon entry after more than 132 people tested positive for COVID.
Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, told the Herald he has not heard of any other restaurants or bars asking for proof of vaccination yet.
In Boston, most bars and nightclubs are operating without restrictions. The Grand and The Scorpion Room have no restrictions. Howl at the Moon reopened July 9, also without restrictions.
West End concert hall Big Night Live is recommending masks for unvaccinated individuals, but a waitress who answered the phone on Wednesday said the venue “isn’t checking.”
State guidelines currently “advise” unvaccinated people to mask up indoors and when social distancing is impossible, but the burden of enforcement has been left up to individual business owners.
“I don’t think any small or large consumer-service business wants to be effectively in law enforcement,” Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst said. “This is now about personal responsibility and choice.”
Gov. Charlie Baker — who returned to Massachusetts on Wednesday evening from Aspen, Colo., where he took meetings with the Republican Governors Association — has shut down earlier conversations about state vaccine passports.
Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, and Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, wrote to Gov. Charlie Baker back in early April imploring the Republican governor to develop a “robust framework” for vaccine verification to complement the reopening of the state’s economy.
“Vaccine passes will allow us to live with the virus without having to impose costly lockdowns,” the lawmakers said at the time.
But that’s exactly where Boston University infectious disease specialist Dr. Davidson Hamer told the Herald he fears Massachusetts could be headed with coronavirus cases again on the rise. Massachusetts saw 366 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday — the highest single-day count since late May. By Wednesday, the daily new case count had hit 457.
“It seems like we are almost the beginning of another wave,” Hamer said, noting the difference this time is that hospitalizations and deaths are still quite low compared to the peak of the pandemic.
Hamer said if trends continue to go up, state officials will need to consider reinstituting mask mandates and gathering limits.
“We need to start putting masks back on indoors regardless of vaccination status,” Hamer said.