BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said in a tweet Friday that he’ll update the state’s reopening plans early next week.
Baker’s comments came a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance saying that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most situations.
“The @CDCgov guidance is great news. We will be updating our reopening plans early next week,” the Republican tweeted. “Massachusetts is on track to vaccinate more than 4 million residents soon. Please stay safe while we prepare next steps to return to our new normal.”
Two weeks ago, Massachusetts began to ease up on mask requirements by allowing residents to go maskless in outdoor public settings as long as they could continue to socially distance from others.
Face coverings are still required at all times in indoor public places, including stores. Store owners can still refuse entry to any customer who won't put on a mask.
Face coverings 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 when eating or drinking.
Under the state’s existing reopening timetable, beginning May 29, street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals will be allowed to open at 50% of their previous capacity, and 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.
Beginning Aug. 1, other businesses will be allowed to open, including nightclubs, indoor water parks, ball pits, saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms at fitness centers and health clubs.
FEWER HIGH-RISK COMMUNITIES
As more people are vaccinated, the number of Massachusetts cities and towns considered at high risk for coronavirus transmission has shrunk to just six, the fifth consecutive week the number has fallen, state health officials say.
There were 13 communities on the list a week ago, and 26 the previous week. It peaked at 229 in mid-January.
The communities that remain at high risk according to state Department of Public Health data released Thursday are Edgartown, New Bedford, Acushnet, Taunton, Lowell and Lawrence.
Brockton dropped to moderate risk after spending much of the pandemic in the high-risk zone.
“The city has been devastated by COVID but it now appears that we are starting to head in the right direction," Mayor Robert F. Sullivan said in a statement. “I strongly encourage all residents to get vaccinated and to continue to follow the guidance of public health officials in order to return to normal as safely and quickly as possible."
Nearly 2.8 million Massachusetts residents had been fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the department.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by about 340 Friday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 18.
The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 17,384 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to about 656,000.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were fewer than 380 people reported hospitalized Friday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 100 in intensive care units.
The average age of those hospitalized was 55. There were an estimated 15,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
More than 7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including about 3.9 million first doses and more than 2.9 million second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
There have been about 230,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered.
More than 3.1 million people have been fully immunized.