An indoor mask mandate takes effect in Boston on Friday, a day after Acting Mayor Kim Janey said COVID-19 cases and positivity rate leveled off during the past week, following a period where such metrics ticked upward as the city battled the Delta variant.
“After weeks of increases, we have seen our cases and positivity stabilize during the last week,” said Janey at a Thursday City Hall news conference.
Janey said the most recent 7-day average for COVID hospitalizations in the city is 93, well below the 126 average in May when the city reopened and below the city’s threshold of concern.
About 61 percent of Boston residents are full vaccinated. The city’s novel coronavirus caseload has topped 75,000, which includes more than 1,400 deaths. On Thursday, Janey encouraged city residents to get the vaccine, and said city authorities continue to boost vaccine access in neighborhoods hardest hit by the virus.
“The vaccine is the best way to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19,” she said.
On Friday, a mask mandate takes effect for indoor public places in Boston. The mandate applies to everyone over the age of 2 when inside a business, club, place of assembly, or other location open to the public. That includes retail outlets, restaurants, bars, performance venues, social clubs, event spaces, and municipal buildings.
People will be permitted to remove face coverings when actively eating or drinking. But masks must be worn for all other indoor activities, including ordering at a bar or dancing. Janey’s office has said the order does not apply to gatherings in private residences where no one is being paid, private buildings inaccessible to the public, places of worship, or performers who maintain 6 feet of distance from spectators.
The mask mandate drew support from public health experts but pushback from some business leaders who said it was another burden being placed on businesses that are struggling through the pandemic.
On Thursday, Janey said city officials would be providing operational support and guidance to local businesses as the mandate took effect.
“The good news in all of this is many of the residents of Boston have already been wearing their masks indoors,” she said.