As of midnight Saturday, Gov. Charlie Baker’s mask mandate is no more and all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in Massachusetts have been lifted.
In place of the mask mandate, the Department of Public Health has issued a new mask advisory in line with CDC guidance. This means if you’re fully vaccinated, you do not have to wear a mask inside or outside in most instances.
Those who are not vaccinated are advised to keep wearing your mask.
Masks are still mandatory for everyone on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings.
Effective Saturday, all industries will be permitted to open to 100% capacity, indoor and outdoor gathering limits will be rescinded and, with the exception of face-covering requirements for certain settings, all state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted.
Some store owners have already seen the results of restrictions being lifted, noting much larger crowds of shoppers on Saturday.
“It’s felt really good for us. We feel like we’re able to sell more. It feels good from a small business perspective to know we can have our product reach more people," said Emily Morrison, Wears Woody Clothing employee.
Despite the policy change, some shoppers still wore masks.
“It is a big day but I’m still wearing mine. I’m fully vaccinated but I think I’ll wear mine for a little bit," said one shopper.
Many restaurants are embracing the change. Inside Stillwater in downtown Boston staff removed the plexiglass barriers at the bar and brought out more tables just before they opened for the day on Saturday. The popular restaurant welcomed guests for the first time since Massachusetts lifted all COVID restrictions at midnight.
“Oh man, it’s a long time coming,” said Sarah Wade, Stillwater owner and executive chef.
Wade expects a busy long weekend admitting that she’s a little anxious but very excited. Tables are once again closer together and the dividers are gone. Wade said staff will still wear masks but it’s optional for customers.
“Exciting changes overall for sure,” she said.
Restaurants across the commonwealth have had to deal with some of the toughest restrictions during the pandemic.
“The Boston restaurant scene is so strong and so close knit that I’m so very thankful that everybody supported us,” said Wade.
She said she’s grateful that they’ve finally gotten to this point.
“I think everybody is taking it step by step day by day to see how it goes,” said Wade.
The biggest challenge for restaurants going forward is hiring more workers. Wade said she and other restaurant owners are looking for more staff to meet demand.
“It’s a long way since last year Memorial Day so it’s nice, nice to be back doing this kind of stuff again,” said one diner.
Sports fan expressed similar sentiments on Saturday at Fenway Park and TD Garden.
“This is pretty awesome. Get back into the games. Enjoy them. Miss that. Haven’t seen it yet we’re back," said one fan.
The Red Sox's game against the Miami Marlins was the first full-capacity game at Fenway since the start of the pandemic. TD Garden is almost at full capacity, but fans must still wear masks.
“It’s crazy. I’m glad to be back to normal, you know? I’m just glad to see people back to the way it was before," said one fan.
The restrictions are being eased as the Bay State's COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues to make strong progress, with 78% of adults having received at least one dose and roughly 3.5 million residents being fully vaccinated.
"Unless something very odd happens, I would say that it is pretty much over," Baker said Friday from the State House Library. "I would put an asterisk on anything that says it's over, but I do believe that it is certainly on the run in a big way and given the data as it currently exists right now, Massachusetts is in a place where we can lift these restrictions and do so with a high degree of confidence that people have done the things we needed to do to beat this thing down."
Children under 5 years old and persons who have difficulty breathing in a mask are among those who are exempt from wearing a face mask.
NBC10 Boston and NECN spoke to some Bostonians about the new changes and, predictably, got some mixed reactions.
"I'm excited to get back out to bars and restaurants," Katie Wolstromer said.
"I'm going to wear a mask when I'm in crowded areas and not go to restaurants," John Grimaldi said.
"Personally, for me, just not seeing masks anywhere at all, that’s what I'm looking forward to," Liza Curran said.