Masks will be required in all indoor public spaces in Newton starting on Thursday, Sept. 2.
The mandate, announced Aug. 26, covers all indoor areas accessible to the public, including grocery stores and other retailers, restaurants and bars, performance and event spaces, and salons, as well as social clubs and places of worship. It does not apply to those for whom a face covering creates a health risk or to children under 2.
“We have learned that the most effective public health strategies build among community members an understanding of the science and the evidence which in turn leads to voluntary compliance,” Mayor Ruthanne Fuller wrote in an e-mail to the community. “Therefore, we as a city have been following a deliberate set of steps in line with the evolving data about the Delta variant and with the fall approaching.”
Prior steps have included issuing a strong recommendation Aug. 5 for people to wear masks inside public spaces. On Aug. 20, the city mandated masks in public spaces within municipal buildings effective Aug. 26. The School Committee Aug. 24 voted to require all students and staff to wear masks inside public school buildings regardless of their vaccination status.
“Our goal is to have our community continue to work together to stop the spread of this persistent virus to youngsters who are not eligible to receive a vaccine and others who are immunocompromised or face other health challenges,” Fuller said.
With summer ending, she added, “residents are coming home from vacations, college students are moving back onto campuses, more than 12,500 students in our Newton Public Schools will start the school year on Sept. 9 with in-person learning, and the cooler weather will be arriving soon, moving people back inside.”
“We have also seen consistent bumps in positive cases after holiday weekends and therefore we are timing our mask mandate to go into effect before the Labor Day long weekend,” Fuller said.
John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.