Provincetown, the popular tourist destination on the tip of Cape Cod, has reissued its mask mandate, more than three months after it downgraded it to an advisory.
The indoor mask mandate was originally instituted on July 25 after a unanimous vote by the Board of Selectmen and Health Board in order to quickly address growing health concerns over the Cape town's cluster that was first discovered after the Fourth of July.
It was rescinded on Aug. 31 and replaced with a public health advisory, with Town Manager Alex Morse citing positive downward trends in the COVID case numbers and positivity rates. At the time, Morse said they would consider reenacting the indoor mask mandate if data warranted.
Now, more than 3.5 months later, Morse said Provincetown's mask advisory is shifting back to an indoor masking mandate, citing an uptick in case counts locally and hospital capacities in the region. He said the decision is being made out of an abundance of caution.
The mandate goes into effect at 12 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21, and requires masks to be worn at all indoor public spaces in town.
Additionally, Morse said adults will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter certain indoor spaces, including indoor dining, bars and nightclubs, indoor fitness and indoor entertainment venues.
Forms of acceptable proof include: a CDC vaccination card; a digital image of your CDC card; an image of any official immunization record; or any other COVID vaccine verification app.
Employees working in those spaces will also be required to be vaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated will have a short grace period to complete vaccination; the first dose must be done by Jan. 15, with the second shot by Feb. 15, 2022.
Morse said covered businesses will be responsible for checking proof of vaccination and posting a notice about the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
The town manager's announcement comes the same day that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced a plan to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination at indoor dining, fitness and entertainment locations.
Wu's plan also included a vaccination requirement for all city workers. The drastic move is intended to curb the recent surge in coronavirus cases across the city.
Cases have been spiking across the state in recent weeks. On Friday, Massachusetts health officials reported another 6,345 new confirmed COVID-19 cases -- the most in one day since Jan. 9, at which time the winter surge was receding, according to state data.
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Provincetown saw a dramatic rise in cases following Fourth of July festivities, with the cluster jumping to 931 COVID cases on July 30. According to an internal report by the CDC, findings from the investigation into the town's outbreak helped formulate the agency's decision to recommend that all Americans, even if they are vaccinated, wear masks indoors.
For his part, Morse has said that Provincetown's cluster highlighted the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. Among those living in Massachusetts who were associated with the Cape town's cluster, the majority were fully vaccinated and reported mild symptoms of the disease.
"While our cluster impacted over 1,000 people, less than ten required hospitalization and no one lost their life," Morse detailed at the time.