TD Garden to require vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests
BOSTON (AP) — Anyone hoping to attend an event at the TD Garden — including Bruins or Celtics games and concerts — will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result.
The rules apply to players, referees, coaches, musicians, vendors, ushers and everyone else entering the arena.
Amy Latimer, president of TD Garden, said the goal is to keep everyone safe.
Proof of vaccination requires a paper record. A photo of the card on a phone will be accepted but it will be checked against IDs for fans 18 and older.
Full vaccination is required. That means 14 days must have passed since the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot.
For the unvaccinated, a printout or digital copy of a negative antigen test or a negative molecular/PCR test will be accepted. At-home rapid antigen tests won’t be accepted.
Those under 12 don’t have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test but must wear a mask -- as will everyone else as part of a city mandate.
STATE POLICE-VACCINE MANDATE
The union that represents about 1,800 Massachusetts State Police troopers went before a judge Wednesday to ask for a delay in the implementation of Gov. Charlie Baker’s state employee coronavirus vaccine mandate.
The union’s lawsuit filed last week asks for the delay so the union can “negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment.”
An attorney for the State Police Association of Massachusetts told the judge that Baker’s Oct. 17 deadline is arbitrary and made bargaining impossible. He said that because of the timing required between shots, unvaccinated troopers would need to schedule their first of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine by Sunday in order to comply.
He said about 20% of troopers are not yet vaccinated.
At attorney for the state said the administration has to have the ability to set a deadline and argued that troopers can still get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be in compliance.
The judge did not rule.
Baker, at a separate news conference Wednesday, said the mandate is intended to protect the public and he expects the suit to be resolved amicably.
The union also asks that troopers who choose not to get vaccinated, or who have already had COVID-19, be allowed to instead wear a mask on the job and undergo weekly coronavirus testing.
The union is also asking for “presumptive protection” for troopers who get sick from COVID-19 or the vaccine. The union wants any coronavirus-related injury or death “automatically be considered a line-of-duty injury,” which would come with additional benefits for members.
Baker announced last month that 42,000 state workers and contractors in the executive branch are required to be vaccinated, or be granted a legitimate exemption, or face disciplinary action up to and including termination.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by more than 1,800 Wednesday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 24.
The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 18,118 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to nearly 746,000.
There were more than 600 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 170 in intensive care units.
The average age of those who have died from COVID-19 was 73.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
Nearly 4.6 million people in Massachusetts have been fully immunized against COVID-19.
___ TOPSFIELD FAIR
Another major Massachusetts agricultural fair will require guests to wear face coverings indoors.
Organizers of the more than 200-year-old Topsfield Fair said Wednesday that the mandate is in line with a Topsfield Board of Health directive issued Monday.
“Our goal is to always provide a safe and enjoyable atmosphere at the Topsfield Fair,” General Manager James O’Brien said in a statement.
The fair is also encouraging fairgoers to make use of hundreds of hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the fairgrounds and is asking anyone feeling unwell to stay home.
The fair, first held in 1818, runs from Oct. 1-11 this year. It was canceled last year because of the pandemic but in a typical year draws up to 500,000 visitors.
The Big E announced last week that it would require masks indoors in line with town of West Springfield rules.
The operator of the Boston area’s two major zoos said Wednesday is has started vaccinating some animals that are susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
The vaccination effort at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and the Stone Zoo in Stoneham will focus first on primates and large cats, as well as ferrets and river otters.
“While we have not had any cases of COVID-19 with the animals at Zoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, this vaccine is an important preventative health measure to protect species that are susceptible to contracting the virus,” senior veterinarian Chris Bonar said in a statement.
The Zoetis vaccine, developed especially for animals, is administered in two doses. It is expected to take three to four months to fully vaccinate all at-risk species at the zoos.