Masks Required? Mass. Businesses Prepare to Make Their Own Decisions on Face Coverings

Massachusetts will lift its COVID-19 restrictions, including the mask mandate, on May 29, leaving businesses to decide for themselves whether or not to require employees and customers to wear masks

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The Union Oyster House, which has been shucking oysters in Boston since 1826, has weathered two pandemics. The next challenge is what to do about face coverings come May 29.

Owner Joe Milano says he'll have multiple signs posted asking customers to wear masks if they haven't been vaccinated.

"It's basically an honor system," said Milano.

The same rules will apply for restaurant employees. And there are no plans to ask patrons or staff for proof.

"If they don't wear a mask, we're assuming they've received or are fully vaccinated," he said. "Kind of awkward, but there's no other way we could approach it."

The sudden announcement that all Massachusetts COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted later this month means business owners are on their own to come up with any requirements for face coverings.

"Some restaurants, stores, and venues will continue to ask you to do so at their place of business," said Mike Kennealy, Massachusetts' secretary of housing and economic development. "Let's all pledge to respect everyone's right to get back to normal at our own pace and in our own way."

Jacqueline Che has also been thinking about the future of face coverings at House of Colour, her salon in the Financial District.

She says come May 29, customers will have a choice, but employees will not.

"We'll leave it up to our clients, but for the staff, definitely we're all going to wear masks," said Che. "Just to make a safe environment for people to feel comfortable in here so they don't feel pressure or stressed out that we don't wear masks."

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