The Boston Public Health Commission voted Tuesday to no longer require masks in most indoor places starting Saturday, though they will still be required in some areas like health care and congregate care settings and on public transportation.
The unanimous vote to rescind the mandate does not apply to Boston Public Schools. Face masks are still recommended in buildings where vulnerable populations are served, such as the Boston Public Library branches and Boston Centers for Youth & Families community centers.
Indoor spaces where masks are no longer required include indoor public spaces like gyms, bars and restaurants, museums and entertainment venues.
Individual businesses and organizations are still able to require masks if they choose to do so.
Here's a quick guide to wear masks will and won't be required as of Saturday:
No masks required
- Bars and restaurants
- Entertainment venues
- Public transportation
- Health care and congregarte care settings
- Boston Public Schools
“Based on the data we have seen over the past weeks, we can remove some of the prevention and mitigation strategies that have been necessary to protect residents,” Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, commissioner of public Health and executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said in a statement Tuesday. “I am optimistic about where our city is headed, and the Commission will continue to monitor our key metrics and adjust our policies accordingly.”
The announcement came at a commission meeting Tuesday, a day after students and staff at Massachusetts public schools were officially no longer required to wear face coverings indoors. That decision was based on improving COVID-19 metrics seen in the city in recent weeks.
"I’m grateful that our city is ready to take this step in our recovery thanks to the hard work and commitment of residents keeping our communities safe over many, many months," said Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement Tuesday.
While masks are no longer mandated in certain indoor settings, the Boston Public Health Commission recommends masking in these settings for people who are at high risk for severe illness or for people who will be around individuals who are.
The statewide school mask mandate in Massachusetts ended Monday, leaving the COVID-19 policy decision up to local districts. Gov. Charlie Baker announced earlier this month that he would lift the state's mask mandate effective Feb. 28, citing students' mental health, vaccination rates and other accessible tools to deal with the pandemic.
Tuesday’s discussion also came as the federal Centers for Disease Control eased its coronavirus guidelines Friday, determining that most Americans live in places where they can safely dispense with wearing masks. The agency is still advising people, including schoolchildren, to wear masks where the risk of COVID-19 is high.
Wu said last weekend that the city appears to be headed in the “right direction” with its COVID-19 measures. Boston’s positivity rate was at 4%, compared to around 2% statewide.
“It’s such a different place now than it was a week ago or a month ago, so we want to keep those trends going,” Wu said Saturday, according to WBUR.
The Associated Press and State House News Service contributed to this report.