Massachusetts COVID restrictions will be lifted effective May 29

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BOSTON (WWLP/Mass.gov) – The Baker-Polito Administration announced that the Commonwealth is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June and all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted effective May 29.

The Commonwealth’s face covering order will also be rescinded on May 29.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 still be mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings.

Governor Charlie Baker will end the State of Emergency June 15.

The Administration also announced updates that will be effective May 18 to revise face covering requirements for youth and amateur sports and other guidance relating to childcare programs and K-12 schools. The Administration will release updated guidance for summer camps effective May 29.

The Administration is able to take these steps to reopen the Commonwealth’s economy because Massachusetts is on track to meet the goal set in December to fully vaccinate over 4 million individuals by the first week of June. 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.

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% Monday.

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 The gathering limit will be rescinded.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.

On May 18, 2020, the Administration published the reopening phases, which called for ending restrictions when vaccines became widely available. Today, there are over 975 locations for Massachusetts residents to access vaccines without delay.

Effective May 29: Updated Mask Requirements

Face-Covering Advisory for Unvaccinated Residents

The Department of Public Health will issue a public health advisory effective May 29 that advises all unvaccinated residents to continue to wear face-coverings in indoor settings and when they can’t socially distance.

Face-Covering Requirements in Certain Locations

Effective May 29, 2021, face coverings will continue to be required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals at all times in the following locations, subject to the exemptions listed below:

  1. On Public and Private Transportation, including on the MBTA, commuter rail, buses, ferries, and airplanes, and while in rideshares (Uber and Lyft), taxis, and livery vehicles, as required by the Centers for Disease Control January 29, 2021 Order.   Face coverings are also required at all times in transportation hubs, including train stations, bus stops, and airports.  The requirement applies to riders and workers.
  2. Inside K-12 public schools, collaboratives, approved special education schools and as otherwise required by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  The requirement applies to students, teachers, and staff.
  3. Inside Childcare Programs licensed or authorized by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and as otherwise required by EEC or the Department of Public Health (DPH).  This requirement applies to students, teachers, and staff.
  4. In Health Care Facilities and Provider Offices, defined as healthcare facilities or providers licensed or operated by the Commonwealth including nursing homes, rest homes, emergency medical services, hospitals, doctor’s office, urgent care settings, community health centers, vaccination sites, behavioral health clinics, and Bureau of Substance and Addiction Services (BSAS) facilities.  This requirement applies to patients and staff.
  5. In Congregate Care Settings, defined as congregate care facilities or programs operated, licensed, certified, regulated, or funded by the Commonwealth including: assisted living facilities, group homes, houses of correction, Department of Correction prisons, jails, residential treatment programs, and facilities operated, licensed, certified, regulated, authorized, or funded by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC),  the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Youth Services (DYS), the Department of Mental Health (DMH), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS), the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC).  Additionally, the face coverings requirement applies to emergency shelter programs, including individual and family homeless shelters, domestic violence and sexual assault shelters, veterans’ shelters, and shelters funded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).  The face coverings requirement also applies in approved private special education schools, which offer residential services and are approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).   This requirement applies to clients and staff.
  6. In Health Care and Rehabilitative Day Services and Programs, defined as programs or services operated, licensed, certified, regulated, or funded by the Commonwealth and authorized under the aegis of the Executive Office of Health & Human Services or one of its agencies.  These programs and services include: adult day health, day habilitation, Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), psychosocial rehabilitation club houses, brain injury centers and clubhouses, day treatment, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, recovery support centers and center-based day support programs.  This requirement applies to staff and consumers.

The following persons are exempt from the face coverings requirement:

  • Children 5 years of age and younger. 
  • Persons for whom a face mask or covering creates a health risk or is not safe because of any of the following conditions or circumstances:
    • the face mask or covering affects the person’s ability to breathe safely;
    • the person has a mental health or other medical diagnosis that advises against wearing a face mask or covering;
    • the person has a disability that prevents them from wearing a face mask or covering; or
    • the person depends on supplemental oxygen to breathe.

Youth and Amateur Sports Face Covering Guidance

Effective May 18, the youth and amateur sports guidance will be updated to no longer require face coverings for youth athletes 18 and under while playing outdoor sports. Effective May 29, all youth and amateur sports restrictions will be lifted.

State public health officials reported 5 new confirmed deaths and 494 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts Sunday night. There are also no western Massachusetts communities currently at high risk for the spread of COVID-19.

K-12, Early Education and Summer Camp Guidance

Effective May 18, guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Early Education and Care will be updated to no longer require masks for outdoor activities like recess and to allow for the sharing of objects in classrooms, in both K-12 and childcare settings. This guidance will remain in effect beyond May 29.

The Administration will release updated guidance for summer camps, effective May 29, which will include no longer requiring masks for outdoor activities.

State of Emergency Order

Governor Baker will end the State of Emergency​ June 15, and the Administration will work with legislative and municipal partners during this period in order to manage an orderly transition from emergency measures adopted by executive order and special legislation during the period of the State of Emergency.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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