Massachusetts will lift mask requirements for youth sports and outdoor activities at schools, health officials announced Monday as the state rolled out its timeline for ending all COVID-19 restrictions.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a news conference that, starting Tuesday, the state will drop its face mask requirement for youth athletes under the age of 18, in a move that will have a significant impact on outdoor sports.
Also Tuesday, masks will no longer be required for outdoor activities at public schools and early education providers, Polito said.
Face coverings will not be required for outdoor activities at summer camps, she added.
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The move comes ahead of the state's lifting of nearly all mask requirements, which officials said would take effect May 29, and it's being cheered by many people involved in youth sports.
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South Shore Baseball Club President Frank Niles said he'll be thrilled to stop playing the dual role of coach and mask enforcer.
“You’re trying to tell them, help them do what they need to do to be successful at baseball, and you’re also harping about, you know, 'Pull up your mask,'” he said.
Guidance is also being update to allow for sharing of objects in classrooms, Polito said.
The rule change means the number of kids who can participate in Recreation Worcester -- and the number of people they can hire -- can expand. It could even end up being more sanitary, said Raquel Castro-Corazzini with Worcester’s Division of Youth Services.
“When kids are playing outside, the amount of times that they end up touching their face because they’re touching their masks and they’re sweating and they’re hot actually does create more time that they’re touching their faces, which is what we don’t want,” Castro-Corazzini said.
Baker’s comments came a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance saying that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most situations. Businesses can still decide to require masks in their establishments.
The group Bring Kids Back Massachusetts had written a letter to Baker earlier this month to push for more common sense guidelines for children, especially when it comes to outdoor activities like youth sports.
“When things don’t necessarily add up and it doesn’t seem like these are evidence-based policies, it’s okay for us to start to question them,” said Andover parent Beth Humberd, who's part of the group.