BOSTON (CBS) – Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced on Thursday that all city employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing.

“Today I am announcing a vaccine mandate,” Janey said. With that, some 18,000 city employees learned they will have to either show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or produce negative test results every week. “Our purpose is to protect our employees and the public,” said Janey.

Even though the announcement wasn’t unexpected, the news was controversial for some. “I definitely feel like it is an infringement on people’s freedoms,” said Harrianne Errie. Others side with Janey. “If you’re working for the government, doing official business for the people, you should have the decency to vaccinate yourself,” said Will Shapiro.

As she has before, Janey vowed not to impose a vaccine passport for customers frequenting city businesses, since vaccination rates among people of color are lower. “To suggest that half of Black residents couldn’t go to a grocery store, I think is insane,” she said.

The city is setting up a computer portal for employees to log in with vaccination information. Employees who work with children and the elderly have until September 20. Public Safety workers have until October 4, and all others have until October 18. The new mandate not only applies to employees, but also contractors and volunteers who do work with the city.

“Mandated vaccinations are a part of life,” said employment law expert Chuck Rodman. “There’s a statute, that boards of health, if it is in their opinion necessary to maintain the safety and public health for the residents of a city or town, they have the ability to require and enforce vaccination and re-vaccination.”

Other candidates for mayor reacted to the news, some supporting the mandate, but saying it comes too late. John Barros said he proposed it two weeks ago. Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell said the city needs to do more, like requiring vaccination proof at restaurants and other businesses too.

Christina Hager