Civic Celebration to Be Held in Spring
SOMERVILLE – Due to increasing public health concerns amid the current surge in COVID-19 cases locally and regionally, as well as the spread of the more infectious Omicron variant, Mayor-elect Katjana Ballantyne is moving Somerville’s January 3 Inaugural Ceremony to virtual and the reception will be postponed and transformed into a Civic Celebration in the spring.
City Council President Matt McLaughlin and School Committee Chairperson Andre Green also announced that the swearing-in and City Council and School Committee Organizational Meetings that precede the Inaugural Ceremony will be held fully remotely and broadcast live.
Mayor-elect Ballantyne will still deliver a virtual address to the community, and Council President McLaughlin and School Committee Chairperson Green will also deliver virtual remarks. More details will be shared in the coming days on how and when to watch. A Civic Celebration will also be planned for the spring.
“Our community should be so proud that as of last week, 67,703 of us were either partially or fully vaccinated. But we are now facing a surge fueled by both the Delta and the more infectious Omicron variants. So we need to each do our part to get safely to the other side of this,” said Mayor-elect Ballantyne. “The City can contribute to that by moving these large events to virtual out of an abundance of caution and following the data and the science to guide our policies and actions. The community can help by wearing masks when indoors in public, getting vaccinated, and by all means get boosted to increase your protection. That’s important for you, for the people around you, and for our unbelievably hard-working healthcare workers who are already struggling to keep up. If you need help making a vaccine or booster appointment, please call 211 or 311. Our celebration can wait, and once we get through this, it will be all the more meaningful to gather with one another.”
“Out of an abundance of caution and respect for people vulnerable to Covid-19 we decided now is not the right time to hold a ceremony that attracts large crowds. Fortunately, the City Council has not missed a beat during the pandemic thanks to the city’s hard work providing remote options for the Council and residents,” said City Council President McLaughlin.
“Celebrating the peaceful transfer of power never ceases to be remarkable, and I am eager to do it. But for now, the priority has to be keeping our friends, families, and neighbors as safe as possible through the Omicron surge. We look forward to celebrating Somerville together this spring,” said School Committee Chairperson Andre Green.
Both the incoming Ballantyne administration and the outgoing Curtatone administration are closely monitoring COVID-19 data and research and are collaborating to ensure a seamless transition for the emergency response and recovery efforts. Mayor Joe Curtatone and Mayor-elect Ballantyne jointly announced this week $9 million ARPA pandemic recovery investments in childcare, rental assistance, and a universal basic income pilot, with $3 million under review for transit access assistance. Both also joined Mayor Michelle Wu of Boston in supporting the introduction of vaccine requirements for entry into restaurants, bars, gyms, and entertainment venues. That proposal is scheduled for a vote by the Board of Health on January 14.
The Somerville mask mandate for indoor public spaces remains in effect as does the City’s eviction moratorium. The City also continues to host vaccine and COVID testing clinics, and recently distributed 16,500 state-provided at-home COVID-19 test kits to the schools and local partners serving vulnerable residents. For local updates on COVID-19, please sign up for city alerts for ongoing COVID-19 updates offered in five languages at somervillema.gov/alerts or call 311 for assistance in your language.
Please also check back at somervillema.gov and watch for further announcements for details on how to watch the swearing-in and inaugural remarks.