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One western Mass. community lifts its mask mandate, while another keeps its rule in place

Two communities in western Massachusetts are taking different approaches to indoor mask mandates.

Last week, the mayor of Greenfield announced she was lifting the city's indoor mask mandate.

Resident David Kells said the time had come to make the change.

"You know, [if] most people [are] concerned about it... people can wear their masks and otherwise, that's OK," he said.

Other Greenfield residents disagreed with the decision.

Meanwhile, some Greenfield businesses are still requiring masks, including Green Fields Market. It's operated by the Franklin Community Co-op.

Sarah Kanabay is a spokesperson. She said the co-op decided to require masks after looking at the data, which showed the positive case rate of COVID-19 in Franklin County is roughly double the state average.

"It just made more sense to continue to err on the side of caution — and support our community members that require the most care, in terms of how we frame our response, rather than focusing on our the people who are best equipped to weather a COVID infection," she said.

A person behind the counter at a different business in Greenfield, which is still requiring masks, declined to be interviewed, saying the the issue has become political. He said the mask requirement is still in place there out of concern over low vaccination rates nationwide.

The town of Amherst still has a mask mandate in place.

Resident Paris Boyce said she thought that made sense.

"I have a 4-year-old who is not vaccinated yet, because she can't be," she said. "And it doesn't really make sense right now when our numbers are just starting to come down. [It] seems like we should wait at least another month or two before we start removing the mask mandates for inside."

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has announced that if current trends continue, he expects his city's mask mandate to be lifted by the end of the month.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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