Around Town

Baker announces lifting of face coverings, industry restrictions

Gov. Charlie Baker announces lifting of face covering orders during a May 17 press conference. (SCREENSHOT)

BOSTON – As of May 29, nearly all state industry and capacity COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted and replaced with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, announced Gov. Charlie Baker May 17.

Beginning May 18, youth and amateur sports teams may play without masks and students can remove masks for outdoor activities.

With the expectation that Baker’s goal of having 4.1 million residents vaccinated by early June, he also announced the State of Emergency order will be lifted June 15. A new order with CDC guidelines will be issued.

“We said from day one we would get through this together,” Baker said. “There’s no question we’ve made tremendous progress.”

Baker thanked business owners and residents for their diligence in taking precautions and getting vaccinated. He noted that many businesses survived by being creative – especially in the restaurant industry – and that residents responded by ordering takeout, purchasing gift cards to use later and eating outdoors.

Baker noted that businesses have the right to continue to require that patrons wear masks and urged citizens to “be respectful” of business rules and those who choose to continue to wear a mask.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the change in mask requirements for sports, noting that “brighter days are ahead of us.”

Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said residents of the Commonwealth have been covering their faces for more than a year.

“April 20, 2020 was the face covering advisory was issued,” she said during Baker’s live-streamed press conference. She said there would be some sectors that will still require face coverings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens, including inside nursing and healthcare facilities, on public and private transportation and in transportation hubs, and inside K-12 schools and childcare facilities.

Baker urged all residents to get the COVID-19 vaccination, which he called “safe” and said that anyone not vaccinated should wear a mask. He said there was no evidence of a fully vaccinated person contracting or spreading COVID. He was asked whether there would be any requirement to provide proof of vaccination.

“We want to follow the federal government’s guidance on this one,” he responded.

He said it would be difficult for individual states to create policies on vaccination proof, particularly in New England where many residents travel back and forth to other states for work and vacations.

When asked if he thought face covering requirements would be lifted in health facilities, such as nursing homes, Baker said that the protective measures put into place there saved lives and hospitalizations.

“That is an area where people have really done a ton of work and I would do nothing to screw with that,” he said.

Baker touted the patience of residents for getting to this point.

“For everybody in Massachusetts, it was a really, really, really long year,” he said. “It’s been really rough.”

Baker said the light at the end of the tunnel is coming because of “the commitment the people of Massachusetts made.”

To Top