Businesses split over vaccine passport rollout in Massachusetts – Sentinel & Enterprise

Businesses contacted by the Herald were split on the idea of a vaccine passport after Gov. Charlie Baker last week said the state may soon roll out a digital vaccine verification system without an accompanying mandate.

“Now not only do we have to look for underage drinking, we have to look for so many different things,” said Frank DePasquale, who owns several restaurants in the North End. “Honestly, we became security guards, we’re no longer restaurateurs.”

After Baker shared the news of the QR code-based system, he had to clarify repeatedly last week that he has “never supported or agreed to any sort of statewide vaccine mandate program” and doesn’t plan to in the future. He explained that the passport is only in place for people who “want to go to a wedding or to a church, or to a restaurant where proof of vaccination is required,” he said.

DePasquale added that in addition to the extra staffing requirements that checking vaccine status would require, he wants his customers to enjoy themselves.

“We want to keep our people happy and healthy, but people go to a restaurant for a great meal and relief from the everyday tension,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to “put pressure” on customers on a night out.

He said that if Boston or Massachusetts were to require vaccination as New York City does for dining out — a prospect Mayor Michelle Wu has floated — he would of course comply.

Jack Morrissey, the former owner of several hair salons throughout the Boston area and the current head of the Cosmetology Association of Massachusetts, agreed with DePasquale.

“If I were still in business, and I had four or five salons, I wouldn’t want it,” he said of the idea of a vaccine passport. “What we have is good, and it’s working … . You’re gonna cause people to be more suspicious, very cautious, and confused.”

He echoed DePasquale’s concerns that implementing vaccine requirements at the door takes away from hairdressers’ mission: “to make a living and do a good job for clients and keep them happy and make a few dollars,” he said.

Another business that already requires vaccines at the door, however, said a system like this would make the process even easier.

At Jacques Cabaret, a popular karaoke and drag bar, Assistant Manager John Freda said the venue needed extra hands on deck to check people’s IDs, vaccine cards and temperatures at the door.

Though Freda said people are already “pretty much trained” to show their IDs and vaccine cards at the door, he’d welcome anything to streamline the process.

“That sounds good, that would be easier,” he said of Baker’s system.


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