Upscale Massachusetts Towns Keep Outdoor Mask Mandate Despite Eased CDC, State Guidance

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Salem Harbor in Salem, Mass. ( sphraner/Getty Images)

The Massachusetts towns of Brookline and Salem have opted to keep their outdoor mask mandates in place even though Governor Charlie Baker eased the state’s mandate on Friday.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in our residents’ best interests, the Town of Brookline will not follow suit with the state’s decision to lift the outdoor mask mandate today,” Brookline Health Commissioner Dr. Swannie Jett said in a statement last week.

“Our face covering requirement has served as a protective layer that limits the possibility of spreading COVID-19 and we are reluctant to relax it at this time without further public input and review by the Advisory Council on Public Health,” Dr. Jett added.

Brookline’s Advisory Council on Public Health will meet to discuss rescinding the mandate on May 13, chairwoman Patricia Maher told the Boston Globe.

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“We are trying to convene as quickly as possible, with the understanding that there are people in town who are anxious to, when they are fully vaccinated, be able to not wear masks when they’re outside,” Maher said.

The Salem Board of Health also decided to keep its universal outdoor masking requirement. The board will convene on May 11 to discuss potential changes to the order.

“We have to couple an abundance of caution with the consideration that people are probably exhausted with dealing with the pandemic and want some latitude — particularly for those who are vaccinated,” board chairman Dr. Jeremy Schiller told the Globe.

The decisions come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed masking guidance for vaccinated Americans, recommending that fully-vaccinated people only wear masks outdoors in large crowds. In Norfolk County, where Brookline is located, about 58 percent of residents have received at least one vaccine dose. In Essex County, home to Salem, about 56 percent of residents have received at least one dose.

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