7 state representatives barred from working at Massachusetts State House due to COVID-19 vaccination requirement

They'll have to work remotely for the indefinite future.

Morning light hits the dome of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Craig Walker / The Boston Globe

Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano’s office says that seven state representatives will have to work remotely for an indefinite period of time, after refusing to comply with the legislature’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

According to Mariano’s office, 152 — or 96 percent — of the House’s 159 members have complied with the vaccination policy, which requires them to either show proof that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or get a religious or medical exemption in order to work in person at the State House.

Those figures include 149 members who provided proof that they had been vaccinated and three members who are either seeking an exemption or getting their second dose of the vaccine.


Seven, however, refused to provide proof or request an exemption. In a statement, a House spokesperson said they “are required to continue working remotely, including participating in session, until they are in compliance.”

Officials are not naming the seven members who are out of compliance. However, state Rep. Brad Jones, the Republican minority leader, told The Boston Globe on Wednesday that he assumed the seven were among the 28 Republicans who voted against the policy in September (only one GOP member in the mostly Democratic chamber voted for the measure, which passed 131-28).

Jones noted that he hasn’t heard of anyone planning to challenge the requirement, which says those who enter the State House without establishing their vaccination status will be disciplined.

“In the couple of instances that members of my caucus said, ‘I’m either not comfortable getting vaccinated or I’m not going to share proof of vaccination,’ they’ve quickly followed up by saying, ‘I don’t plan on being in the building in person,’ which to me is in compliance with what was outlined,” Jones, who is vaccinated, told the Globe.

Mariano’s office also said that 98 percent of the House’s nearly 500 employees have also provided proof of vaccination or requested an exemption. The chamber’s human resources department is working with those who haven’t on an individual basis.


“Human Resources and the Working Group will continue to work with Members, supervisors, and employees to increase vaccination rates,” the House spokesperson said.

Senate President Karen Spilka said last month that 100 percent of state senators and staff had at least responded after the chamber implemented a similar requirement, with the vast majority fully vaccinated.

“I am proud to say that almost everyone in the Senate—96% of Senators and staff—is fully vaccinated. Some are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated, some have received an exemption, and some are engaged with HR in the exemption process,” Spilka wrote in an Oct. 18 letter. “I am very optimistic that we will reach our goal of 100% compliance very soon.”

The State House is currently in the first phase of a four-stage plan to gradually reopen the building to the public. The plan gave members and staff until Nov. 1 to provide proof of vaccination or request a religious exemption.

“Those who do not or cannot provide proof of vaccination, for whatever reason, will be required to continue working remotely,” says the plan, which also extended the option of remote participation for both members and the public.

(Those who receive a religious or medical exemption may work at the State House during the first phase of the opening “subject to the terms” of their exemption, Mariano’s office said. It’s unclear what exactly those terms are.)


A full reopening date for the State House has not been set.


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