HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini has reinstituted the requirement that all visitors to city hall and other city-owned public buildings must wear a mask or similar face covering indoors to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
The mask mandate begins Wednesday, Aug. 25, and affects buildings including the public library, Citizens Center, all DPW facilities, the police station and all fire stations. The mayor’s order requires that city employees who are not vaccinated wear a mask when in a city building.
Fiorentini said city employees who are vaccinated will be asked to wear masks when interacting with the public but will be allowed to go mask-free when at their desks or in other areas where they are not in direct contact with the public.
The mayor also ordered that all city employees must be vaccinated. He said that by state law, the city must negotiate the impact of the new policy. He said he must negotiate possible consequences for employees who refuse to be vaccinated.
Fiorentini said impact bargaining would begin immediately with city unions.
Effective immediately, all new hires in the city must show proof of vaccination prior to employment, he said.
“Haverhill, like every other city, is seeing a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus,” Fiorentini said. “Ninety percent of all Haverhill’s new cases are people who are not vaccinated. While there are infections among vaccinated people, by and large they are not serious and have not required hospitalization.”
The mayor noted that about two thirds of eligible adults in the city have been vaccinated, but that he is looking for a higher level of compliance.
“It is critical that we take steps immediately to protect the public and to protect the vast majority of our employees who are vaccinated,” the mayor added. “With final FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine, there is no longer any reason not to be vaccinated.”
The municipal vaccination ultimatum is similar to the executive order signed last week by Gov. Charlie Baker affecting everyone who works in the state's Executive Department and the order issued recently by acting Mayor Kim Janey in Boston.