BOSTON (WHDH) – Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday announced that Massachusetts is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June and that all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on May 29.
The state’s face-covering order will also be rescinded on May 29 and the Department of Public Health will issue a new face-covering advisory consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance, Baker said during a news conference at the State House.
“We have gotten to this point because we followed the science and the people of Massachusetts did the hard work and made the sacrifices,” Baker said. “We are now prepared and protected, and we can move forward together.”
Come May 29, all industry restrictions will be lifted, capacity will increase to 100 percent, and gathering limits will be rescinded. All industries will still be encouraged to follow CDC guidance for cleaning and hygiene protocols.
“Massachusetts is effectively battling back in its campaign against the virus,” Baker said. “Nearly every student in the state is back in the classroom and we’ve reopened nearly every industry. We’re safer, smarter, and better equipped in this fight than any time since it began.”
The new face-covering advisory will recommend fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask or social distance indoors or outdoors except for in certain situations, according to Baker.
“Vaccinated individuals are thoroughly protected from illness and very highly unlikely to transmit the virus at all,” Baker said.
Face coverings will still be mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems including rideshares, livery, taxis, ferries, MBTA buses and trains, Commuter Rail trains, at transportation stations, in healthcare facilities, and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings.
Face coverings will also remain required indoors for staff and students of K-12 schools and early education providers.
Non-vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing face masks and to continue distancing in most settings.
Baker noted that businesses can choose to set their own requirements for vaccinations or masking and that that “communities that don’t want to go as aggressively or as far as we’re proposing to go” can make whatever decisions they feel are appropriate “and we will support that.”
Baker also announced that effective May 18, youth and amateur sports guidance will be updated to no longer require face coverings for youth athletes 18 and under while playing outdoor sports. All youth and amateur sports restrictions will then be lifted on May 29.
Effective May 18, guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Early Education and Care will be updated to no longer require masks for outdoor activities like recess and to allow for the sharing of objects in classrooms, in both K-12 and childcare settings, according to Baker.
Baker noted that his administration will release updated guidance for summer camps, which will take effect on May 29 and no longer require masks for outdoor activities.
The Commonwealth leads the nation in vaccinating residents, with 75 percent of adults receiving at least one dose, according to Baker. To date, over 4 million residents have received a first dose, with 3.2 million fully vaccinated.
New cases have dropped by 89 percent since January 8 and COVID hospitalizations are down 88 percent since January 1, public health data shows. The positive test rate is also down by 88 percent from peaking at 8.7 percent on January 1 to 1 percent as of Monday.
The state of emergency, which was declared on March 10, 2020, will be lifted on June 15.
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