COVID

Boston to lift indoor mask mandate in most places on Saturday

The Boston Public Health Commission unanimously supported lifting the mandate Tuesday afternoon.

People wearing masks inside Quincy Market in August. On March 5, Boston will lift the indoor mask mandate in most places. Suzanne Kreiter / Boston Globe

As of Saturday, March 5, people in Boston will no longer be required to wear a mask indoors in public.

The decision Tuesday from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to drop the mandate was unanimous, as COVID-19 metrics in Boston have been steadily improving.

The mandate does not change the current requirement that people wear masks on public transportation, airports, and bus and train stations, and masks will still be required in healthcare settings.

While masks are no longer mandated in most indoor settings, the BPHC recommends masking indoors if you are at high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, or if you will be around people who are.

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“I’m grateful that our city is ready to take this step in our recovery thanks to the hard work and commitment of residents keeping our communities safe over many, many months,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said in a news release. 

The BPHC met Tuesday afternoon to discuss ending the mandate after the CDC revised its mask recommendations Friday. The new guidelines make it so that about 70% of the American population is no longer advised to wear masks indoors.

Boston is currently considered to be in the “medium” category for COVID-19 severity, which, by the CDC’s recommendations means only individuals with a high risk of COVID-19 complications need to talk to their doctor about potentially wearing a mask.

It also comes in the wake of Gov. Charlie Baker lifting the mask mandate for schools in Massachusetts, leaving it up to local municipalities to decide.

Boston Public Schools still has a mask mandate in place.

BPHC Executive Director, Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, recommended lifting the mandate at the Tuesday meeting, and though legally she did not need the support of the Board of Health, they took a roll call vote. All voted in favor of lifting the mandate.

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In a presentation to the Board of Health, Ojukutu said Boston’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is down to 2.5% from 32% in early January. She also said Boston’s measures of health care capacity, including COVID-19-related emergency department visits, adult and pediatric hospitalizations, and occupied adult ICU beds are all well below the BPHC’s thresholds of concern.

“Based on the data we have seen over the past weeks, we can remove some of the prevention and mitigation strategies that have been necessary to protect residents,” Ojikutu, said in a news release.

“I am optimistic about where our city is headed, and the Commission will continue to monitor our key metrics and adjust our policies accordingly.” 

Masks have been required at most public locations in Boston since August 2021. The city recently dropped its proof of vaccination requirement for entering restaurants, gyms, and large venues.

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