Gov. Charlie Baker announced updates to the state’s reopening plan and mask mandate on May 17, days after the CDC announced that masks are no longer required in most situations for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Massachusetts set a goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the beginning of June, and “today, Massachusetts leads the nation in vaccinations and are on track to meet the goal we set for ourselves in September,” Baker said.
Baker announced that beginning on May 29, “Massachusetts will lift all industry COVID restrictions and capacity limits,” and the face covering order will also be rescinded.
A new face covering order will go into effect on May 29, consistent with the CDC’s guidance, that will require everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks “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,” according to the state.
The State of Emergency will be lifted on June 15, Baker added.
Baker said that those who are unvaccinated are urged to continue wearing masks, and they should also go get vaccinated.
“We’ll continue knocking on doors, making calls, setting up pop-up sites and doing everything we can to expand access to vaccines,” Baker said. “We know this is harder to do in our hardest hit cities and towns. There’s no question we’ve made tremendous progress, every one who works, lives or studies in Massachusetts has been or will be offered a vaccine at a time and place that is convenient for them…If you have not yet gotten vaccinated, please get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family.”
Baker also said that individual towns and businesses are free to impose their own restrictions for things like mask wearing, and advised the public to respect those restrictions.
“We got this far because the people in Massachusetts followed the public health guidance to keep everybody safe and we must continue to do our part to respect any rules and requirements that individual businesses or employers may choose to put in place,” Baker said.
“The Commonwealth was tested…” Baker said, “but together, we all fought back, made changes as the fact on the ground changed and never, ever stopped moving forward.”
He said the virus will continue to exist in the community but tools like vaccines, as well as science and the growing knowledge about the virus “allows us to get back to living our lives.”
There are more than 975 vaccination locations in the state, and Massachusetts continues to be a leader in vaccination rates.
He added that recent studies show that fully vaccinated individuals are “very highly unlikely” to contract or transmit the virus. “We’ve gotten to this point because we followed the science and the people in Massachusetts did the hard work and made the sacrifices,” he said.