Westborough ends mask mandate

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A sign shows in the window of Westborough’s Town Hall noting the town’s face mask requirement. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

WESTBOROUGH – Westborough’s indoor mask mandate was rescinded tonight following an unanimous vote by the Board of Health. 

The mandate is lifted effective immediately.

All of the board members noted the decreasing number of positive COVID-19 cases in Westborough. They noted that this trend has continued since the board last met on Jan. 31. 

“I think especially knowing that [number of cases this week] while looking at the numbers from the past three weeks and seeing such incredible, rapid decline of cases, we should consider dropping the mask mandate and going back to an advisory,” board member Melissa Mahr said.

Westborough reported 56 cases last week

Westborough joins other communities in the region removing their mandates this week, including Northborough, Marlborough and Grafton. 

This vote also came hours after state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced that Massachusetts’ school mask mandate will be lifted on Feb. 28. 

Westborough’s mandate went into effect Jan. 5

During the week it went into effect, there were 354 COVID-19 cases reported that were confirmed by PCR tests. 

Chair Nathan Walsh reported during this Board of Health meeting that there were 56 positive PCR tests last week and three cases documented through at-home Antigen tests. Mahr noted that there were 10 cases to date this week. 

The board previously revisited the mandate on Jan. 31, which is when it was due to expire. 

At that point, Walsh and Mahr voted in favor of extending the mandate while member Alan Ehrlich voted against the extension.

While they were all in agreement that the numbers were improving, Walsh and Mahr expressed interest in keeping the mandate in place for a little while longer. 

After their vote to now rescind the mandate, the Board of Health discussed maintaining a formal mask advisory at their latest meeting. They ultimately decided to encourage residents to wear masks, particularly N-95 masks, when in public indoor spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. High-risk residents should also wear masks. 

The board did not, however, vote on the precise language of such a recommendation.

Mahr noted that while the numbers looked promising this week, she wanted to see the trend of cases. 

“I do think people should continue to keep up their guard. We certainly don’t want to see cases go back up,” Mahr said.

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