The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is updating its face mask guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a notice Tuesday, DPH said it is now advising that face masks be worn indoors outside of your home if you are fully vaccinated and have a weakened immune system, if you are at higher risk for severe disease due to your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
Those who are not fully vaccinated are still advised to wear a face covering or mask when indoors.
This is a change from the previous guidance released in December 2021, which recommended that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering in indoor, public spaces.
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Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or was a close contact of someone who tested positive must continue to follow isolation and quarantine guidance which include wearing a mask in public regardless of vaccination status.
Massachusetts latest COVID-19 numbers show decline in cases
Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, have dropped significantly in recent weeks after spiking in January, which health officials attributed at least in part to the omicron variant. On Monday the seven-day average positivity rate was at 3%, compared to the most recent peak of just over 23% on Jan. 5.
Case counts and hospitalizations have also been trending down.
The latest wastewater data from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's tracking system, run by Cambridge-based Biobot, shows COVID metrics back down to pre-omicron surge levels in the Boston area.
Baker dropping statewide school mask mandate
Last week Gov. Charlie Baker announced the end of the statewide school mask mandate will be on Feb. 28, giving power instead to individual districts to determine COVID-19 regulations, based on local case metrics and vaccination rates.
This is in keeping with similar decisions in surrounding states.
Some places will still require a face mask
Certain types of locations will continue to require face masks. This includes public transit, such as the MBTA, commuter rail, buses, ferries, and airplanes, and while in rideshares (Uber and Lyft), taxis, and livery vehicles. This is a federal requirement set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This also applies to transportation hubs like train or bus stations and airports.
The requirement will also continue to apply in health care facilities, congregate care facilities, correctional facilities, emergency shelters, and certain health and day care programs. For a full list of specifics, click here.