New masks mandates? Boston eating places taking their cues from the state

New masks mandates? Boston eating places taking their cues from the state
New masks mandates? Boston eating places taking their cues from the state

However, individual restaurants can issue mask mandates if they wish, he said.

Indoor dining was particularly strained during the pandemic. The hospitality industry has been subject to strict measures for months, operating under curfews, capacity restrictions, social distancing and wearing masks as the virus raged and vaccines were not yet available. Many chose to prefer customers outdoors if they had patio space or built outdoor seating after research found that the transmission of COVID-19 is less likely to be outdoors.

While Massachusetts lifted most of the restrictions on restaurants in late May, many are still catching up and adapting to diners dining in person.

On Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker said he was reviewing the CDC’s new guidance and had more to say “soon” as to whether tougher measures were imminent. Baker lifted the vast majority of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions in May after the CDC said fully vaccinated people could take off their masks indoors.

Several Boston restaurants said they had no immediate plans to implement a mask mandate, but said they would wait and see if state or city officials decide to tighten restrictions.

Doug Bacon, who owns eight restaurants in Boston, including The Kenmore on Kenmore Square, The Corner Tavern on Back Bay and White Horse Tavern in Allston, said they will continue to use the current guidelines. At the moment, Bacon said that guests in the restaurants are not required to wear masks when entering and that vaccinated employees are not required to wear masks.

Bacon found that Massachusetts outperformed many other states in the country on several key metrics on its COVID-19 response.

Jared Hall, general manager at Serafina in Back Bay, said he and the assistant general manager were “re-evaluating” the restaurant’s policies in light of the CDC’s revised guidelines. Currently, masks are optional for employees and customers, Hall said.

“I think one of the problems with the CDC at times has been that the messages aren’t as clear as they are intended,” Hall said. “I feel like it’s clearer when I hear it from the state rather than the CDC.”

Hall said he felt it was “a bit early” to make a decision on updated masking guidelines and said he would look to Baker, other restaurants, and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association for guidance.

“It’s easier in some places – it’s clearer in hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores – but restaurants have different components that act on it, so it’s one of the things to watch out for.”

Tony Barros, co-owner of Restaurante Cesaria, a Cape Verdean restaurant in Dorchester, said he and his business partner spoke briefly about adding a masking measure on Wednesday morning but decided against it. Barros said he would await further instructions from the city or state.

“Every day is different, with different guidelines,” said Barros. “I think we’ll just wait to see what comes from above and then move on from there.”

There is a sign with a mask symbol on the front of the restaurant, Barros said. If customers want to wear masks they can and if staff are vaccinated the choice is theirs, he added.

Mackenzie Dame, general manager at Lulus Allston, said the restaurant has no plans to reintroduce masking guidelines.

“Of course, if things escalate further we will probably call to possibly bring our masks back,” said Dame.

She added that the restaurant is trying to make the best use of the outdoor terrace. All the waiters in the restaurant are fully vaccinated, said lady, but they carry masks with them during their shifts in case a guest feels more comfortable wearing a mask. The restaurant is not yet fully occupied again, added Dame.

An employee of the Broadway Hospitality Group, which runs the restaurants Tavern in the Square, Broadway in South Boston, and Playwright in South Boston, refused to give her name mask guidelines, but will comply if Baker takes new measures.

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ amandakauf1.