Smiling faces were in full view Saturday as Boston’s COVID-19 indoor mask mandate for businesses and other venues officially came to an end.
City health officials voted last week to lift the indoor mask requirement for stores, restaurants, gyms, event spaces, and municipal buildings on the advice of Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, the city’s public health commissioner, citing a decline of infections and hospitalizations and an increasing number of vaccinated residents.
“I love it, it’s like going back in time. It’s nice to see people’s faces,” said Pavel Polanco-Safadit of Indianapolis, who was visiting Quincy Market on Saturday with his wife, Ivonne Blanco.
Face masks are still required in some spaces across the city, including public and private transportation services, Boston Public Schools facilities, health care facilities, congregate care facilities, emergency shelters, and prisons, according to the city.
Good morning Boston! As of today, masks are no longer required at most indoor public spaces, however, private businesses still reserve the right to require face coverings.— Boston Public Health (@HealthyBoston) March 5, 2022
Here is where you will still need to wear a mask:#bospoli @MayorWu @CityOfBoston pic.twitter.com/Zrd5SBPTLF
City officials continue to recommend mask-wearing for individuals who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or who will be in close proximity to people who are.
Business owners may also continue with a mask requirement for workers and patrons if they choose to, officials said.
The rates of positive coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been in steep decline over the last few weeks in Boston, where 72 percent of residents are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The city reported a positivity rate of 2.2 percent last week, down from 32 percent in January.
“I’m grateful that our city is ready to take this step in our recovery thanks to the hard work and commitment of residents keeping our communities safe over many, many months,” Boston Mayor Michell Wu said in a statement last week announcing the mask requirement would be lifted this weekend.
The city said an indoor mask mandate could be reinstated “if data show an increased risk of community transmission,” the statement said.
Nick Stoico can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico. Craig F. Walker Globe Photo. Follow him on Instagram @craig_f_walker.