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Baker/Polito Administration Announces Easing of Outdoor Mask Requirements, Other Reopening Steps

Massachusetts residents will be able to be outside in some public setting without masks starting at the end of the week.

On Tuesday, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that Massachusetts will reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries effective May 10th and put plans in place for further reopening on May 29th and August 1st. Additionally, they said that starting on April 30 they are easing some outdoor mask wearing requirements.

“Face coverings will only be required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times required by sector-specific guidance,” the administration said in a release.

Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places, the release adds. 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 for when eating or drinking. At smaller gatherings in private homes, face coverings are recommended but not required. The $300 fine as an enforcement mechanism will be eliminated.

There are other changes coming as part of the Phase IV, Step 2 Industries and Gathering reopening plan:

Effective Monday, May 10th:

Large venues such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks currently open as part of Phase 4, Step 1 at 12 percent will be permitted to increase capacity to 25 percent.

The Commonwealth will reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries including amusement parks, theme parks and outdoor water parks that will be permitted to operate at a 50 percent capacity after submitting safety plans to the Department of Public Health.

Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events will be permitted to take place with staggered starts after submitting safety plans to a local board of health or the DPH.

Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate and high risk sports.

Singing will also be permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues and other businesses.

Effective May 29th:

Subject to public health and vaccination data, gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings and private settings.

Subject to public health and vaccination data, additional Phase 4, Step 2 industries will be permitted to open including:

  • Street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals, at 50 percent of their previous capacity and after submitting safety plans to the local board of health.
  • Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries, will be subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90 minute limit and no dance floors.
  • Subject to public health and vaccination data, the restaurant guidance will be updated to eliminate the requirement that food be served with alcohol and to increase the maximum table size to 10.

Effective August 1st:

Subject to public health and vaccination data, remaining industries will be permitted to open including:

  • Dance clubs, and nightclubs
  • Saunas, hot-tubs, steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs and other facilities
  • Indoor water parks
  • Ball pits

All industry restrictions will be lifted at that time, and capacity will increase to 100 for all industries, with businesses encouraged to continue following best practices. The gathering limit will be rescinded.

According to the release, depending on vaccine distribution and public health data, the Administration may consider re-evaluating the August 1st date.