Fully vaccinated people in Massachusetts are now recommended to wear face masks in public, indoor settings under certain conditions, state health officials said Friday, stopping short of a full mask mandate.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health's new guidance recommends that "a fully vaccinated person wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home)" if they or someone in their house has a weakened immune system or is at risk of severe disease, or if someone in their home is unvaccinated.
Read the full announcement below.
It's the first change to Massachusetts' mask guidance since the state reopened, and it comes amid a surge in cases -- including among vaccinated people, though still at a lower rate than the unvaccinated -- caused by the delta variant of the virus.
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Gov. Charlie Baker, who is spoke to reporters Friday while visiting the Boston Youth BBQ Vax and Basketball Bash, tweeted about the new guidance from the Department of Public Health, stressing that the change is meant "to maximize protection of vulnerable individuals."
"We will continue to double down to protect those who are most at risk here in Massachusetts, and today's guidance is another way we can work together to stay healthy and safe," Baker said Friday.
Several Massachusetts counties have high enough COVID transmission that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending that vaccinated people wear masks indoors: Barnstable, Bristol, Nantucket and Suffolk.
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A COVID outbreak on Cape Cod has been tied to hundreds of cases, and helped the CDC decide to issue its new mask recommendations for vaccinated people.
Here's Friday's full announcement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
Today, the Department of Public Health (DPH) released updated guidance regarding the use of face coverings and cloth masks by individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
This week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance that continues to state that individuals who are fully vaccinated may, as a general matter, resume many of the activities that they engaged in prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where otherwise required by federal, state, or local laws, rules or regulations. In response to the recent spread of the Delta variant, however, the CDC’s updated guidance does recommend that even fully vaccinated persons wear masks or face coverings when indoors if other risk factors are present.
In light of the information provided by the CDC, and in order to maximize protection of vulnerable individuals from the Delta variant, the Department of Public Health released updated guidance today that recommends that a fully vaccinated person wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home) if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of 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.
All people in Massachusetts (regardless of vaccination status) are required to continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including transportation and health care facilities. Please see www.mass.gov/maskrules for a complete list of venues where face coverings remain mandatory as of May 29, 2021.