Gov. Baker Says Mass. Will Update Its Reopening Plans ‘Early Next Week'

The state had said Thursday it was not ready to lift its mask order yet despite new guidance from the CDC

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Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that Massachusetts will update its reopening plans early next week.

"The new @CDC guidance is great news," he said on Twitter. "We will be updating our reopening plans early next week."

Baker also noted that the state is on track to vaccinate over 4 million residents soon.

"Please stay safe while we prepare next steps to return to our new normal," he added.

Baker's office said late Thursday that masks will still be required for now in all indoor public places, at all events and outdoors when social distancing is not possible in Massachusetts, despite new guidance from the Centers from Disease Control advising fully vaccinated individuals that it's safe in most cases to stop wearing a face covering.

For now, there won't be any change to the Massachusetts mask order after federal mask rules were eased indoors and outdoors for people who are fully vaccinated.

His office said the governor welcomed the new health guidelines from the CDC and would be "updating Massachusetts' COVID restrictions in the near future."

"In the meantime, the current mask order remains in place. The Commonwealth is leading the nation in the vaccination effort and the Administration will continue to make vaccines available to everyone who lives, works or studies in Massachusetts," press secretary Sarah Finlaw said in a statement.

The CDC, led by former Massachusetts General Hospital physician Dr. Rochelle Walensky, took a major step toward allowing the country to return to life as it remembers it before the pandemic when it said Thursday that Americans no longer need to wear a mask outdoors or indoors in most cases, as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

States, however, have varied rules when it comes to masks. Some, but not all, New England states have already announced plans to relax their mask mandates.

An unmasked President Joe Biden celebrated the CDC’s announcement Thursday that fully vaccinated people can remove their masks in most places, adding “get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.”

Baker last relaxed the state's mask mandate on April 30 when he said they were no longer required outdoors if social distancing was possible, and he eliminated the $300 fine for mask violations. Face coverings are still required at all times in indoor public places, and at public and private events held indoors and outdoors, except when eating or drinking.

On Monday, large venues like Fenway Park where masks are still required were allowed to expand their capacity from 12% to 25% and other industries, such as amusement parks and road races, were allowed to resume.

The next step in reopening is scheduled to occur on May 29 when gathering limits are slated to climb to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors, and street festivals, bars and beer gardens will reopen. Baker has said that timeline could be sped up depending on public health metrics. 

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