Masks are required in all indoor public spaces in Worcester, Massachusetts, as a new mandate took effect Monday due to a spike in COVID cases.
Officials in Worcester announced the citywide mask mandate Friday.
"I think it's a huge bummer -- only because I am so tired of all of this, but I think it’s absolutely essential and until people start behaving themselves, we are going to have to keep on doing this," Olivia Scanlon said at Fuel America Coffee House.
Masks are now required indoors at all private businesses in the city. City employees will also be required to be vaccinated or be tested weekly effective Nov. 1.
The mask mandate applies to those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated. Exceptions include eating or drinking indoors or receiving personal services like haircuts.
An emergency order was also issued that requires employers to report positive COVID cases in their workplace to the Board of Health.
The mask mandate comes following a rise in coronavirus cases in Massachusetts' second-largest city in recent weeks. Worcester has now seen 10 consecutive weeks of increases in cases, including 510 new cases and two new deaths in the past week.
"The numbers are clear and the trend is real. COVID is still with us," City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. has said. "The delta variant is the dominant strain and it is striking us with a vengeance. Unfortunately, that has forced us to make some difficult decisions."
Worcester's average of new cases, weighted across, is 78, more than four times the seven-day average on Aug. 1 of 18 cases a day.
"We are now firmly in the third wave of COVID-19," Mayor Joseph Petty said. "The delta variant is exactly as contagious as expected. We are all paying for the decisions of the unvaccinated."
"To be clear, we are in a battle," Augustus added. "That's not hyperbole. We're in a battle with an enemy that is well equipped to inflict serious damage and has already done so."