mask mandate

Mask Mandate in City Buildings Takes Effect in Salem, Mass.

The Salem Board of Health is also scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider expanding the mandate to all buildings

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The city of Salem, Massachusetts, has implemented a new mask mandate for public buildings that went into effect on Monday.

The mask mandate is in effect "until further notice," the city said. Masks are required inside all city buildings in Salem, for both employees and the public. This includes people who have been vaccinated.

Courtesy: City of Salem

The buildings covered by the mandate include City Hall, City Hall Annex, the Community Life Center, the Salem Public Library, the On Point Center, Old Town Hall, park buildings, the Salem Police Station, and all Salem fire stations.

The Salem Board of Health is also scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider expanding the mandate to all buildings. It will also weigh imposing other requirements such as a vaccine mandate for city workers or vaccine proof to enter businesses in the city.

With the holidays coming up and cases at current levels, it is important to have this conversation now, Mayor Kim Driscoll said.

"We are seeing an uptick in case counts, there is no doubt about that," Driscoll said in an interview. "We don't want to wish we acted three weeks from now and be faced with a situation that isn't good for our community."

Salem had an indoor mask mandate in place from August through November.

Other cities and towns have mask mandates in place for municipal offices, and some even have them in place for all indoor spaces.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that starting this week the state will begin distributing over 2.1 million free COVID-19 rapid at-home tests to communities across Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has said he has no plans to bring back a statewide mask mandate, as he thinks that's a decision that should be handled locally. He reiterated that position during a news conference on Monday.

"Keep in mind, we are in a very different place than we were in before," Baker said.

During a television appearance on Sunday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu also said he has no plans to implement a mask mandate despite a spike in COVID cases, comparing it to being put "in the penalty box" in ice hockey.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced a major initiative to distribute 2.1 million free COVID tests around Massachusetts, but said he's not planning to bring back a mask mandate amid rising cases.
NBC/The Associated Press
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