COVID

Markey joins Pressley, Spilka in calling for statewide mask mandate

Gov. Charlie Baker said he has “no interest” in reimposing such an order.

Kevin Dietsch
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is the latest local leader to say that Massachusetts needs a statewide mask mandate amid surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey says it’s time for a statewide mask mandate.

The Malden Democrat is the latest local leader to call for the measure. State Senate President Karen Spilka and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley have also spoken about the need to return to a statewide mandate amid rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

“As we continue to experience a winter surge and are now faced with the new threat of the even more contagious Omicron variant, it is incumbent upon
policymakers, at all levels of government, to act aggressively to center the public health and keep our collective constituents safe and healthy,” Pressley wrote in an open letter to Gov. Charlie Baker.

Instead of a mandate, Baker issued a statewide mask advisory on Tuesday.

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The advisory particularly urges individuals to wear a mask if they have a weakened immune system, face an increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19 because of their age or an underlying medical condition, or live with someone who is high risk or unvaccinated.

The updated mask advisory doesn’t have the legal authority of a mandate. There is no threat of fines or enforcement for those who disregard the recommendation. However, masks do remain mandatory in certain places, like public transit, health care facilities, and most schools.

Baker has repeatedly declined to say if he thinks the state could reimpose a mask mandate without again declaring a COVID-19 state of emergency. And on Tuesday, he said he has “no interest” in reimposing such an order.

“If locals wish to pursue alternative options, they can do so,” Baker said. “We issued a mask mandate last fall because we had no other options available to us. At this point in time, we have vaccines, we have rapid tests, we have our testing sites, and people know a lot more about what works and what doesn’t with respect to combating this virus.”

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