Health officials in Salem, Massachusetts, pulled back major COVID-19 safety restrictions Tuesday.
The Board of Health voted unanimously to rescind the orders put in place in December, which required masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces, as well as proof of vaccination for people inside certain businesses. The change takes effect immediately.
"I am incredibly grateful for the expertise and thoughtfulness of our Board of Health," Mayor Kim Driscoll said in a statement. "They have and will continue to make decisions driven by science and data, aimed at protecting public health in the best interest of our community."
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The city pointed out that businesses will be free to make their own rules regarding masks and vaccines.
The announcement from Driscoll's office cites "feedback from local hospital leaders and improving public health metrics in the community."
"Given current trends, we would not be opposed to pulling back on COVID mitigation restrictions in the local community," Dr. David J. Roberts, president of Salem Hospital, told the board of health in a letter shared by the city.
The city also pointed to an 84% decrease in the Salem's two-week new case rate since Jan. 15, and a 76% drop in Salem Hospital patients with COVID in the same time. Surveillance of wastewater also shows a 77% decrease in the virus' presence between Jan. 15 and Feb. 8.
Salem joins other Massachusetts communities in relaxing its restrictions as COVID cases decline. Worcester health officials voted Monday to lift mask requirements on Feb. 18. Last week, Lowell and Beverly allowed their mask mandates to expire.