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Massachusetts Unveils Timeline For Easing Remaining COVID-19 Restrictions

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Jessica Rinaldi
The Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

Massachusetts will relax its requirements that face coverings be worn outside effective Friday, and on May 10 will allow greater capacity at stadiums, the reopening of amusement parks at half capacity and the return of road races, Gov. Charlie Baker's office announced.

As of Aug. 1, Baker's office said, all industry restrictions will be lifted, capacity will increase to 100 percent across industries and gathering limits will be rescinded.

The moves are part of a suite of additional reopening plans and loosened restrictions that come as all state residents age 16 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations and with the state's seven-day positive test rate currently below 2 percent. The 812 new virus cases reported here Monday marked the lowest single-day total since early November.

"Depending on vaccine distribution and public health data, the Administration may consider re-evaluating the August 1st date," Baker's office said in a press release. "The Department of Public Health will also continue to issue guidance as needed, including guidance to still require masks indoors."

Effective Friday, April 30, face coverings will only be required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and when required by sector-specific guidance. Masks will still be required in indoor public places and at events, indoors or outdoors.

On May 10, large venues can boost capacity from 12 percent to 25 percent, and amusement and theme parks that submit safety plans to the DPH can reopen at 50 percent capacity. Road races and singing at indoor venues will be permitted with precautions in place.

Effective May 29, Baker's office said, gathering limits will rise to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors. That same day, "subject to public health and vaccination data," bars, wineries and distilleries will be able to reopen, under the same rules as restaurants, and street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals will be allowed at half-capacity.

The governor's office announced the moves ahead of a 1:45 p.m. Baker press conference and after some news outlets captured images of a social media post from local health officials in Oakham providing details of the plans. The Oakham Board of Health later removed its Facebook post, writing, "The State Department of Public Health didn't want us to share important information with you just yet- we received a personal call to tell us to take this mornings post down announcing possible changes to some outdoor mask requirements, wineries, capacity limits and more." That post, too, was later removed.

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