mask mandate

Here's Where New England States Stand on Masks After CDC Released New Guidelines

The CDC  unveiled new guidance on outdoor mask-wearing for unvaccinated people Tuesday

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New England states have lifted or made changes to their mask mandates and announced further reopening measures as the federal government this week issued new guidance on face coverings.

The moves come as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled new guidance on outdoor mask-wearing for unvaccinated people Tuesday and as more residents get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Here's where each New England state stands on mask-wearing.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is poised to take additional steps toward normalcy under Gov. Charlie Baker's latest COVID reopening timeline.

Baker's suite of short- and longer-term updates to the state's reopening plan, released Tuesday, positions Massachusetts to fully reopen by August. It starts with the state's outdoor mask mandate expiring Friday, followed by other COVID-related business restrictions that relax next month.

Starting Friday, masks will no longer be required outdoors as long as the person can maintain social distancing. Regular service can begin at bars next month, when capacity limits will expand for gatherings and more, and the governor gave an expected end date for all COVID-related business regulations.

Baker stressed, however, that "face coverings will remain required in all indoor public places," and in some other situations, like at large sports venues.

Governor Baker gave an expected end date for all COVID-related business regulations.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire was the first New England state to stop requiring masks earlier this month after Gov. Chris Sununu let the mandate expire.

"New Hampshire will not renew the state's mask mandate," Sununu said. "We will continue to encourage social distancing and the wearing of masks when appropriate. ... It's just a good idea."

Individual communities and businesses are allowed to continue requiring masks, according to Sununu, and some are doing so.

Nashua was the first city to enact an ordinance requiring masks in May. The rules remain in place while the city’s board of health develops criteria for removing them, according to the city’s website.

Similar ordinances were enacted in Concord, Portsmouth, Keene and Durham. Concord’s is set to expire June 1, Durham’s expires June 5 and Portsmouth’s on June 30, though they could be renewed.

Private businesses, cities, and towns can still come up with their own masking rules, but it will no longer be mandated by the state. Experts say this is not the time, but some residents are saying finally.

Vermont

Health Director Dr. Mark Levine on Tuesday said the state would take the CDC guidelines into consideration when making changes to the state's own mask guidance.

“The new mask guidance is a common-sense public health step,” Levine said. “The CDC, like the State of Vermont, is taking well-modulated, science-based steps in developing its recommendations. It strikes the right balance for this point in the nation’s pandemic response – allowing greater flexibility connected with vaccination status.”

Levine said the Scott administration had already been considering changes to the state's guidance, and that health officials would review the CDC’s recommendations.

Vermonters are currently required to wear masks or cloth facial coverings over their nose and mouth when they they are in public spaces, indoors or outdoors, where they come in contact with people from outside their household and are not able to socially distance.

School vacation week for many southern New England communities, combined with significant snowfall expected this week in much of northern New England, means a getaway to Vermont’s ski resorts is on a lot of people’s minds. However, those destinations are having to strike a careful balance this season between promotion and safety during the pandemic.

Maine

Maine Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday lifted the state’s requirement that people wear face coverings outside, effective immediately.

In a statement, the Maine Center for Disease Control said masks are no longer required in public, but recommended that people continue to wear them “in outdoor settings where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing.”

Masks remain required in indoor public settings, and the state’s social distancing guidelines remain in place, the Maine CDC said.

Rhode Island

People fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will no longer be required to wear face coverings when outdoors in Rhode Island effective Friday, except when in crowded areas, the state Department of Health and Gov. Daniel McKee said in a statement.

The updated mask policy, made in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, takes effect Friday.

Someone is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their final recommended dose, the statement said. A crowded setting is defined as one where someone cannot consistently maintain three feet of distance with others.

Masks are still required at indoor public settings.

Connecticut

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday that the state will be following new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on the wearing of masks outdoors, which says that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear face coverings unless they are in a crowd of strangers.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Connecticut will embrace those guidelines, effective immediately.

“Connecticut stands that if you are outside, you’ve been vaccinated, just like Joe Biden said, you don’t need to wear the mask. If you are in a crowded area where you’re not quite sure who you are standing next to wear the mask a little bit longer," Lamont said.

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