By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer
SHREWSBURY — With COVID-19 restrictions loosening across Massachusetts, Shrewsbury Town Hall officially reopened to the public on June 1.
Additionally, indoor activities at the Shrewsbury Senior Center will be returning in June, and the Shrewsbury Public Library patrons won’t be required to make an appointment.
During a May 25 Board of Selectmen meeting, Assistant Town Manager Kristen Las said the town had been anticipating reopening in August.
However, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that effective May 29, Massachusetts’ mask order was rescinded except for certain circumstances like on public transportation and in healthcare facilities.
As part of the lifted restrictions, Las said that this means gathering limits have been rescinded and capacity can return to 100 percent. However, individual businesses or departments may opt to still have restrictions.
According to Las, 64 percent of residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 49 percent are fully vaccinated.
Las said there’s been a “great decrease” in the number of COVID-19 cases in Shrewsbury. The town’s COVID-19 status in the state’s color-coded risk ranking is still green.
“It’s good to see that all that information and data breaking the way that it is,” said Board of Selectmen Chair John Samia. “It seems that the light is at the end of the tunnel.”
While appointments to come into Town Hall will not be necessary, Las encourages residents to call the department they want to visit ahead of time because some staff may still be working remotely. This will also help maintain social distancing.
Masks will still be required for visitors and staff in public buildings.
With the Shrewsbury Senior Center now admitting indoor activity participants at a 50 percent or less capacity, some activities, like the Memory Lane Cafe, will be able to meet in person again for the first time in over a year, according to the Senior Center newsletter.
Town Manager Kevin Mizikar recognized Las during the meeting, particularly for her “leadership in responding to the pandemic,” he said.
“She’s had the read on this since day one and has done a really good job helping us navigate this complicated time,” Mizikar said.
Last year, selectmen declared a state of emergency due to the pandemic. The board may rescind that declaration at its June 8 meeting.
Las said Shrewsbury staff are still determining what that means for town operations, including the Open Meeting Law and outdoor dining.
Gov. Baker has filed legislation that extends measures allowing public bodies like the selectmen to meet remotely and also extends special permits for restaurants to offer outdoor dining.