Boston’s indoor mask mandate for businesses lifted

BOSTON (AP) — A city ordinance that required people to wear face coverings in Boston’s indoor public spaces, including restaurants, stores, museums and entertainment venues, was lifted Saturday. Boston follows New York, Los Angeles and other major United States

BOSTON (AP) — A city ordinance that required people to wear face coverings in Boston’s indoor public spaces, including restaurants, stores, museums and entertainment venues, was lifted Saturday.

Boston follows New York, Los Angeles and other major US cities easing pandemic restrictions as authorities push for more normalcy after two grueling years of the pandemic.

The city’s public health commissioner, Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, in conjunction with the city’s board of health, made the decision earlier this week, citing a sharp drop in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations as well as high vaccination rates.

“All of our key indicators are moving in the right direction, Ojikutu said during the meeting.

In Boston’s Seaport neighborhood, most cafes and stores had removed signs requiring mask mandates by late morning. Queuing outside a bakery, Matthew Mayer, 23, said he felt relieved and the change was overdue.

“It’s great,” he said. “I feel like I’m liberated”

But a few feet ahead in line, several students were still wearing their masks and said they would continue to do so indoors.

“I’m a medical student, so for me it’s usually about protecting myself from any pathogens. It doesn’t have to be COVID,” said Drea Gonzalez, 26, a public health student at the University of Pennsylvania.

A few blocks from a CVS pharmacy, employees wore masks as needed, as did most customers. But those without masks said they felt the change in policy made sense.

“Saturday couldn’t have come fast enough really,” said Bob White, a 76-year-old lobbyist who lives in Dorchester. “We have been wearing a mask for a few years. I think that with everything in order, it’s good that the public is behind us. When we arrived yesterday we had masks to go to dinner last night and when we got up this morning we were going to burn our masks. But we didn’t.

The masking requirement has also been lifted in many city buildings, including for city employees, except those where vulnerable populations are served. The city still recommends wearing a mask for people at high risk of getting sick.

“Although masks are no longer required in certain indoor settings, the Boston Public Health Commission recommends masking up in these settings if you are at high risk of serious illness or if you will be around people who are,” the council said.

Additionally, individual businesses and other locations may continue to require masks for their customers.

The lifting of the mask mandate comes about two weeks after the city ended its requirement for proof of vaccination for restaurants, gyms, entertainment venues and certain other businesses.

Masks are still mandatory on public transportation, in health care and community living facilities, and in public schools across the city. The board of health has scheduled a meeting on March 9 to discuss the school masking policy.

The latest indoor masking policy came into effect last August.

Michael Casey, The Associated Press

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