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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Boston lifts mask mandate

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Josh Kotler
Two UMass Boston students wear masks on the campus of UMass Boston. Photo by Josh Kotler / Mass Media Staff

Boston has lifted its mask mandate for indoor spaces like stores, gyms, restaurants and more. Customers are no longer required to show their vaccine proof in order to dine-in at restaurants or any other indoor locations.

Mayor Michelle Wu and Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, the Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said in a press release that the city’s “B Together” policy, which according to Boston25 News “requires patrons and staff of certain indoor spaces to show proof of vaccination” against COVID-19, will be lifted effective immediately.

According to the City of Boston public health data, Boston has a goal of a 4 percent or lower community positivity rate, with 5 percent or more as the threshold for concern.

“Thanks to the discipline and hard work of Boston residents and public health professionals, as well as careful planning and strong leadership from Mayor Wu and City officials, we have come together as a city to significantly increase vaccination and testing for residents,” said City Council President Ed Flynn.

In a press release from March 9, 2022, Mayor Wu and Dr. Bisola announced that Boston’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration will end on April 1, 2022. The declaration has remained in place since March 15, 2020.

Although the mask mandates have been lifted, many restrictions will still apply to public places like public transportation, healthcare settings and Boston Public Schools.

“Masks are recommended in city buildings where vulnerable populations are served,” reads the press release.

“While masks are no longer mandated in certain indoor settings, the Boston Public Health Commission recommends masking in these settings if you are at high risk for severe illness or if you will be around individuals who are,” continues the statement.

Considering COVID-19 and campus safety, universities across the greater Boston area have made changes to the existing mask mandates on their campuses.

“Beginning Monday, March 28, UMass Boston will shift to a mask optional policy in all spaces on campus, except for shuttle buses and University Health Services. Masks will still be required throughout campus for those who are unvaccinated or unboosted,” reads the official email sent by Marie Bowen, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, and Robert Pomales, Executive Director for University Health Services.

“Very importantly, we will continue to encourage masking for any individual based on their own personal situation or comfort level,” continues the email. “As a campus we plan to be ‘mask welcome’ to anyone who prefers to continue to wear a mask on campus.”

While case rates are declining, the university will continue to monitor the situation, keeping in mind numerous factors like student positivity rates, the outcomes and level of severity of positive cases and more.

As of March 9, the vaccination rate among students is 99.6 percent and 99.7 percent among the faculty, while the COVID-19 positivity rate is one percent as per the data recorded by the University Health Services.

Other universities, including Boston University and Harvard, have announced an optional mask policy too. Reports from Harvard Crimson and Daily Free Press—independent student newspapers of Harvard University and Boston University, respectively—stated that students will continue to wear masks in class, university transport facilities and health service centers, but will no longer be mandated by the University.
University Health Services at UMass Boston continues to offer COVID-19 PCR testing, free and on-demand, in the Campus Center. Students and employees can schedule an appointment online in MyHealthBeacon. If you are symptomatic or believe you were exposed, call 617.287.4355.

About the Contributors
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor
Josh Kotler, Photographer