Massachusetts mask and COVID business regulations relaxed

A girl takes a walk at the UMass Boston campus with her mask on.

 

On April 27, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced his plans to lift the outdoor mask mandate and laid out a reopening plan for businesses. 

The announcement came on the same day that the CDC announced that individuals who are vaccinated do not need to wear a mask while doing outdoor activities alone, or when in small groups. 

On Friday, April 30, the lift on the outdoor mask mandate went into effect. Masks are now only required in public, outdoor spaces if social distancing is impossible, and “at other times required by sector-specific guidance,” according to new Massachusetts guidelines. 

With the elimination of the mandate also comes the removal of the $300 outdoor mask enforcement fine. Still, masks are required in all indoor public spaces, and are recommended for private gatherings between people from different households. 

In the Baker administration’s announcement of the lift, the administration explains that the reasons for the outdoor mask mandate lift and for other reopenings is the fact that public health metrics have consistently continued to “trend in a positive direction.” These trends are based on the average number of daily reported COVID cases and hospitalizations. The announcement also included commendation for Massachusetts’ work in vaccinations, highlighting that the state remains first in the nation for “first vaccine doses and total doses administered per capita, among states with more than 5 million people.” 

Despite the lift on the outdoor mask mandate, masks will still be required outside in two towns in Massachusetts. 

Brookline and Salem have decided to ignore the lift on the outdoor mask mandate and continue on with requiring masks in outdoor spaces. The towns are not expected to reevaluate the measure until later this month. 

In addition to the outdoor mask mandate lift, the governor’s office also announced three major dates on which different businesses will be able to reopen.

Beginning on May 10, arenas, stadiums, and ballparks will move from allowing 12 percent capacity to 25 percent capacity. Additionally, amusement parks and water parks will be able to reopen at 50 percent capacity, given that they submit plans for reopening to the Department of Public Health (DPH). Road races and other outdoor organized athletic events have also been given the green light should they submit their safety plans to the DPH as well. Finally, indoor singing will be allowed at restaurants, performance venues, and other businesses. 

Then, on May 29, the number of people who can gather for indoor events will increase to 200 people, while the number of people who can gather for outdoor events will increase to 250 people. Street and agricultural festivals, as well as parades, will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity. At this point, bars, breweries, distilleries, wineries, and beer gardens will be able to follow the same rules restaurants are following: No dance floors, seated service only, and a 90 minute time limit on the dining experience. 

Gov. Baker plans to reopen industries that have not been able to operate since the beginning of the pandemic on Aug. 1. These industries include: saunas, steam rooms, and hot-tubs at fitness facilities, dance clubs and nightclubs, ball pits, and indoor water parks. At that point, all industries will be open at 100 percent capacity and gathering limits will be eliminated as well. 

The announcement highlights that this date is subject to change depending on vaccination and public health trends.

For more information regarding the reopening process in Massachusetts, visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts

 

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