In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, Massachusetts on Saturday lifted its remaining COVID-19 restrictions and rescinded its mask mandate in favor of looser guidance.
Governor Charlie Baker last week announced the updated measures and new timeline, which expedited reopening by about two months, days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.
Boston, which has previously moved on a delayed reopening timeline relative to the state’s, would adopt the same measures on Saturday, Acting Mayor Kim Janey said last week.
There are no longer restrictions on indoor or outdoor gatherings, businesses are allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity, and venues like bars, which have been shuttered throughout the pandemic, can reopen.
Despite the go-ahead from the state to ease restrictions, the looser measures may not look the same everywhere. Individual businesses are able to implement their own rules on mask-wearing and capacity limits, and Baker last week urged residents to respect any restrictions private businesses may keep in place.
Here’s what’s changed for businesses and gatherings on Saturday:
- There are no longer be capacity limits on indoor or outdoor gatherings
- All businesses can operate at 100 percent capacity
- Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries can reopen
- Time limits, table-seating caps, and social distancing requirements at restaurants have been rescinded
- Dance clubs and nightclubs can reopen. Saunas and hot tubs at fitness centers, health clubs, and other facilities can reopen, and indoor water parks and ball pits can reopen
- Street festivals, parades, and agricultural festivals can reopen
In addition, the state’s current mask mandate, which requires that people “wear masks or face-coverings in indoor public places and outdoors when they are unable to maintain 6 feet from other people,” has expired. Instead, the state aligned its mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people with the CDC’s.
Here’s what the new mask measure means:
- Fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face covering or social distance indoors or outdoors except in certain situations
- Nonvaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing face masks and to continue distancing in most settings
- Face coverings are still required for all individuals on public and private transportation (including ride-hailing services, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, commuter rail, and transportation stations), health care facilities and providers, congregate care settings (including group homes, prisons, and emergency shelter programs), and health and rehabilitative day services
- Face coverings also remain required indoors for staff and students of K-12 schools and early-education providers
The eased restrictions come as COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining in Massachusetts, and New England states continue to lead in the country’s vaccination campaign.
More than 70 percent of adults in the region’s six states have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to CDC data.