With Massachusetts reopening, what will happen to restaurant masks and takeout cocktails?
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced on Monday that the state intends to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions by May 29, as well as the state of emergency, which has been in place since March 10, 2020, by June 15. the order will also be canceled.
“The Department of Public Health will issue a new notice covering the face in accordance with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” a statement from the Baker administration said. The CDC’s latest masking guidelines state that fully vaccinated people can resume their activities without masking or physically distancing “except as required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including guidelines on masking. local businesses and workplaces. ”
Thus, according to the new direction, on May 29, fully vaccinated people could gather inside a restaurant dining room without a mask, for example. The state, however, has advised unvaccinated people to continue to mask themselves and continue to distance themselves socially in most situations. In addition, companies are free to continue to require customers to wear masks. (There is certainly a feeling of “enforcement fatigue” among restaurant workers, however, and it will be even more difficult to enforce rules that are not backed by a state mandate.)
In Massachusetts, face covers will continue to be required for people using public and private transportation systems (including ridesharing apps like Lyft and Uber, taxis, ferries, MBTA, and other transportation networks. ), health facilities and other housing environments. vulnerable populations (collective care, nursing homes, etc.).
On May 29, all businesses will be allowed to reopen at 100% capacity and the collection limit will be lifted. Restaurants will apparently no longer be required to space tables six feet apart – removing capacity limits that still existed in the restaurant industry – and group sizes and reservation times will disappear.
“The administration is in a position to take these steps to reopen the Commonwealth economy as Massachusetts is on track to meet the December target of fully immunizing more than 4 million people by the first week of June, “the statement read. “The Commonwealth leads the country in vaccination of residents, with 75% of adults receiving at least one dose. To date, more than 4 million people have received a first dose, of which 3.2 million are fully vaccinated. “
Of course, the reopening means the future of hugely popular programs, including the state’s decision to allow restaurants to sell take-out cocktails, is in doubt. When the state legislature decided to allow restaurants to sell take-out cocktails, it did so on the condition that the privilege be waived whenever Baker lifted the state of emergency.
Restaurants certainly don’t want take-out cocktails to go away, but it’s unclear at this time whether they will make their wish come true or whether take-out cocktails will become a pandemic relic. (Some states, like Texas and Florida, have already decided to make take-out cocktails permanent.) A spokesperson for Baker’s office told Eater that Baker, along with other lawmakers and municipalities, “would be working on a orderly transition of the state of emergency ”and“ to know more about this matter as the date of June 15 approaches ”.
At a press conference Monday, Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced the city would align with plans to reopen the state instead of falling behind by a few weeks as previously planned. Janey said 58% of Bostonians had received at least one dose of the vaccine and the city’s number of active cases was the lowest since she started tracking in April 2020.
“But let me be clear, our battle against COVID is not over,” Janey said. “The reopening will only work if we all continue to do our part to fight the pandemic.”
Janey was quick to point out that only 30% of the city’s black and brown population had been vaccinated and that the city needed to do more to increase vaccine equity in its communities of color. To that end, Janey announced that Boston intends to double its investment in its vaccine capital grant program, committing an additional $ 3 million to the effort.
• Baker declares a state of emergency; 92 total cases of coronavirus in Massachusetts [WGBH]
• Bars and restaurants in Massachusetts can finally sell take-out cocktails (for now) [EBOS]
• Restaurants don’t want cocktails to take away [BG]