Boston's Democratic mayor on Tuesday compared vaccine passports to slave papers, saying the requirement could "create a barrier" for Boston's minority communities.
"There's a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers—whether we're talking about … during slavery, post-slavery," Mayor Kim Janey told local reporters. "We want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionally impact BIPOC communities."
Janey's comments follow New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's (D.) announcement Tuesday that New Yorkers will be required to provide proof of COVID vaccination to enter some public spaces, including restaurants and gyms. While President Joe Biden has encouraged other cities to enact similar policies, local leaders have criticized the law for disproportionately impacting minority residents, who have lower vaccination rates than the general population.
"I believe this is the spark that will get a lot of people very angry about the city's response," New York City councilman Joseph Borelli (R.) told the New York Times. "This is going to create two separate classes of people."
In New York City, only 33 percent of black residents have received at least one dose, compared with 47 percent of white residents and 77 percent of Asian residents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
New York City's vaccine passport policy is among several restrictions imposed by Democratic-controlled cities in response to rising COVID cases. In the last week, both Washington, D.C., and San Francisco reinstated mask mandates for indoor public spaces.