NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP/Mass.gov) — Starting Saturday, masks will be optional basically anywhere in Massachusetts with some key exceptions. The Baker-Polito Administration says that all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted May 29.
Everyone will still have to wear a mask while riding public and private transportation or visiting health care facilities. The Department of Public Health and the CDC are hoping to ensure people at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and urgent cares are protected.
“We need to protect those vulnerable people, and highly effective doesn’t mean 100% effective. There isn’t some big red ‘V,’ or any sign that lets us know who is vaccinated and who is not,” said Linda Riley, infection prevention manager at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
Riley also said wearing a mask when visiting a health care facility will help protect other patients who might be especially at risk for the virus. And although Massachusetts is on track to meet its goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June, masking remains important so long as vaccination rates are not at 70% herd immunity levels.
Reilly also said that there are still some uses that masks can hold in the future. “They anticipate a severe flu season next year. People with allergies have said wearing a mask has made a tremendous difference in having nasal allergy symptoms. So masks help the allergy symptoms and they help with respiratory illness.”
The Commonwealth’s current face-covering order will be rescinded on May 29. The Department of Public Health will issue a new face-covering advisory consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance.
Face coverings will also remain required indoors for staff and students of K-12 schools and early education providers.
Non-vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing face masks and to continue distancing in most settings. The advisory will also recommend that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face-covering or social distance indoors or outdoors except in certain situations.
Effective May 29, all industries will be permitted to open. With the exception of remaining face-covering requirements for public and private transportation systems and facilities housing vulnerable populations, all industry restrictions will be lifted, and capacity will increase to 100% for all industries. The gathering limit will be rescinded.
All industries will be encouraged to follow CDC guidance for cleaning and hygiene protocols.
Gov. Charlie Baker will end the State of Emergency on June 15. New cases have dropped by 89% since January 8. COVID hospitalizations are down 88% since January 1 and the positive test rate is down by 88% from peaking at 8.7% on January 1 to 1% now.
The Commonwealth leads the nation in vaccinating residents, with 75% of adults receiving at least one dose. To date, over 4 million residents have received a first dose, with 3.2 million fully vaccinated.
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