Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced Monday that the state intends to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions by May 29, as well as lifting the state of emergency since March 10, 2020 by June 15, which will also be revoked.
“The Department of Health will be releasing a facelift containing advice in line with updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said a statement from the Baker administration. The CDC’s latest guidelines on masking state that fully vaccinated individuals can resume their activities without masking or physically distancing them “unless required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations including local company and workplace guidelines ”.
For example, according to the new guidelines, fully vaccinated people could gather in a dining room of a restaurant on May 29 without a mask. However, the state advised unvaccinated people to continue masking and social distancing in most situations. In addition, companies can still require customers to wear masks. (There is definitely a sense of “enforcement fatigue” among restaurant workers, however, and it will be even more difficult to enforce rules that are not supported by a government mandate.)
Massachusetts will continue to require face shields for those who use public and private transportation (including ridesharing such as Lyft and Uber, taxis, ferries, MBTA, and other transportation networks), health care facilities, and other residential areas at vulnerable populations (community care, nursing homes, etc.) .
From May 29th, all companies can be 100 percent reopened and the collection limit will be lifted. Allegedly, restaurants no longer have to set up tables two meters apart in order to remove the remaining capacity constraints in the restaurant industry. The group size and the reservation deadlines disappear.
“The government can take these steps to reopen the Commonwealth’s economy as Massachusetts is on track to meet its December target of fully vaccinating more than 4 million people by the first week of June,” it said in the statement. “The Commonwealth is a nationwide leader in vaccinating residents. 75 percent of adults receive at least one dose. So far, over 4 million residents have received a first dose, 3.2 million are fully vaccinated. “
Of course, the reopening means that the future of the hugely popular programs, including the state’s decision to allow restaurants to sell take-away cocktails, is in doubt. When lawmakers decided to allow restaurants to sell take-away cocktails, it did so on condition that the privilege be lifted if Baker lifts the state of emergency.
Restaurants certainly don’t want takeaway cocktails to go away, but it’s unclear at the moment if they’re fulfilling their wish or if takeaway cocktails will become a relic of the pandemic. (Some states, like Texas and Florida, have already decided to make takeaway cocktails permanent.) A spokesman for Baker’s Office told Eater that Baker, along with other lawmakers and local authorities, “will work on an orderly transition from the state emergency” and will “Learn more about this as we get closer to the June 15th date. ”
In a press conference on Monday, Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced that the city would align itself with the state’s reopening plans instead of staying a few weeks behind as previously planned. Janey said 58 percent of Boston residents received at least one dose of the vaccine and that the number of active cases in the city is the lowest since surveillance began in April 2020.
“But let me be clear, our fight against COVID is not over yet,” said Janey. “The reopening will only work if we all continue to do our part to fight the pandemic.”
Janey was quick to point out that only 30 percent of the city’s black and brown population had been vaccinated and that the city had to do more to increase the equity of vaccines in its color communities. To that end, Janey announced that Boston intends to match its investment in its vaccine equity grant program and allocate an additional $ 3 million to the effort.
• Baker declares a state of emergency; 92 total coronavirus cases in Massachusetts [WGBH]
• Massachusetts bars and restaurants can finally sell takeaway cocktails (for now) [EBOS]
• Restaurants don’t want takeaway cocktails to go away [BG]