HOUSE SPEAKER Ron Mariano said on Monday that lawmakers will likely require members of the public to show proof of vaccination if and when the State House reopens.
Mariano made his remarks alongside Gov. Charlie Baker, whose administration earlier in the day unveiled a digital portal where Massachusetts residents can download a QR code showing digital proof of their vaccine status. Mariano said the portal should be helpful as the Legislature tries to decide how to welcome the public back to the State House.
“If you want to come in, you need to present me with some proof of identification and proof that you’ve been vaccinated and this card would do it,” Mariano said.
Mariano’s thinking is similar to what the city of Boston and other municipalities are requiring for people to gain entrance to leisure-related indoor spaces, including restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues. Baker opposes a statewide mandate along similar lines, but has said municipalities are free to impose their own requirements. He said on Monday that the QR codes are a way to make compliance easier for members of the public.
Mariano now appears to be moving in the same direction as the city of Boston, except his reach extends only to the State House, which the Legislature controls. The speaker didn’t commit to a timeline for reopening the building, which has been closed to the public for nearly two years, but he said the new vaccine verification system will be helpful.
“That will go a long way to helping us make some decisions, I would hope,” he said.
Baker announced on Monday that his state of the state address will not be held in the House chamber at the State House, where it has been held every year except last year, when it was delivered by video from his office. Instead, Baker said, he will deliver his speech January 25 at the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay.
“The reason it will be at the Hynes is it’s a much better facility to provide what I would describe as a significant amount of room for people, generally speaking, and it will come with criteria around masking and vaccines,” Baker said after meeting with Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka.