Amid a rise in COVID cases in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and the threat of the Omicron variant possibly coming, the city is implementing a mask mandate for indoor public spaces, which includes all businesses.
It takes effect at 5 a.m. Friday morning.
“Many people are asking does this work or doesn’t it work,” said Chelsea resident Marianne Ramos. “Well if it does, let’s give it a shot, if it doesn’t, at least we tried.”
But not everyone is ready to mask up all over again.
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“I wear it because I have to,” said Chelsea resident Traci Oliver. “I don’t really have a choice, but I feel it should be my choice, my body, my choice, my decision.”
The city says the new mandate ordered by the Chelsea Board of Health is necessary not just because of the rise in cases and the looming Omicron variant, but because of the season, as well.
“And with the cold weather and more people moving indoors the concern is the spread is going to get even worse,” said Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
An indoor mask mandate in Chelsea has already been in effect for some spaces like City Hall and the library, but now it’ll expand to all businesses like restaurants, salons, gyms, houses of worship, and retail shops.
“It’s only just a piece of cloth,” said Dollar Tienda owner Ana Maria Estrada. “I think after close to a year we should be used to this.”
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Estrada says while she supports the mandate, she’s worried it’ll keep people away even as business was starting to improve.
“I’m a little nervous,” said Estrada. “But hopefully it will not be for too long, hopefully we will be able to control it this time since we have more information about it. Let’s see how it goes.”
City officials say the mandate will likely be in place for a while, and at least until the weather improves.
The city also offered a reminder of its free vaccination clinic on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 318 Broadway. Chelsea Public Schools announced a vaccination clinic for younger students on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Mary C. Burke Elementary.