COVID-19 restrictions to end, region celebrates

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Photo by/ Dakota Antelman Ashland Firefighter John Brovelli helps draw vaccines into their syringes at the new COVID-19 immunization clinic in Westborough.

By Sara Brown, Contributing Writer

REGION – Area communities rejoiced last week as Gov. Charlie Baker announced an end to remaining COVID-19 restrictions, more than a year after the pandemic shut down much of public life.

Baker indeed announced that all COVID-19 restrictions in Massachusetts, including the state’s mask mandate, will be lifted on May 29. 

As capacity limits will end, this also means parts of municipal governments that have operated remotely since last March may soon get to reconvene in person. 

“It’s going to feel very weird to go from meeting in these Brady Bunch squares to meeting in person,” said Southborough Town Administrator Mark Purple during a May 18 selectmen meeting. 

Purple said his town is trying to develop a way to go hybrid, so people can be in person while others can still meet online with them if they are more comfortable with that option instead. The town is making sure they have the needed technology for this. 

“It’s going to be surreal,” said Purple. 

Shortly before Baker’s announcement, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also declared that, in most situations, fully vaccinated Americans do not have to wear masks indoors or outdoors. 

Face masks will still be needed in certain situations, like while taking public and private transportation including Uber and Lyft rides, MBTA subways, buses and commuter rail trains, taxis, ferries and other options. 

Masks will also be mandatory inside schools, child care programs, health care facilities, nursing homes and other settings that host vulnerable populations.

As the vaccine rollout continues, officials are continuing to encourage individuals to get their shots.

“The message from us is, if you’re fully vaccinated, the data and the guidance from the CDC is pretty clear: you’re very unlikely to transmit it, you’re very unlikely to get COVID,” Baker said during a press conference. “If you’re not vaccinated, you should get vaccinated.”

Baker also announced the Massachusetts state of emergency will end June 15.

With that in mind, Purple offered a prediction for his Southborough colleagues.

“It’s a good likelihood we will be meeting in person next week,” said Purple. 

Learn more about Baker’s announcement…https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts