People can now take off their masks outdoors in Massachusetts, provided they can maintain social distance, in the first of a series of reopening measures aimed at stimulating the state's economy.
Earlier this week, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that his administration would lift the state's outdoor mask mandate, effective Friday, and relax other COVID-related business restrictions beginning May 10. All business restrictions are slated to lift and industries to reopen by Aug. 1.
Face masks will now only be required outside in public when it’s not possible to socially distance — or when required for other reasons, including at outdoor events. Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places, including stores.
Face coverings will also continue to be required at all times at events, whether held indoors or outdoors and whether held in a public space or private home, except when eating or drinking.
At smaller gatherings in private homes, face coverings are recommended but not required. The $300 fine that had been put in place as an enforcement mechanism has also been eliminated.
The mask mandate was put in place when coronavirus cases were soaring last fall, but hospitalizations and COVID cases have been declining. Additionally, Massachusetts is the first state in the country in which two-thirds of all adults have received their first dose.
On Thursday, Baker said Massachusetts could fully reopen sooner than his proposed date of Aug. 1 if residents continue to get vaccinated against coronavirus at the current rate.
New Hampshire's mask mandate expired on Saturday, making it the first state in New England to no longer require people to wear masks. Other New England states like Connecticut and Rhode Island are set to do the same next month.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled new guidance on outdoor mask-wearing Tuesday that suggests fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear a mask outside unless they’re in a large group.