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Two Massachusetts towns ignore CDC guidance and keep outdoor mask mandates — even after the state eases restrictions
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Two Massachusetts towns ignore CDC guidance and keep outdoor mask mandates — even after the state eases restrictions

Officials from a pair of communities in Massachusetts announced recently that they will be keeping outdoor mask mandates in place, despite Republican Gov. Charlie Baker easing the coronavirus-related public health order last week.

Both the town of Brookline and the city of Salem have decided to keep requiring residents to cover their faces at all times even after Baker announced that residents statewide would no longer need to wear face coverings when socially distancing is possible, Mass Live reported.

The news outlet noted that Baker's updated guidance went into effect last Friday, but on the same day, Brookline Town Manager Mel Kleckner and Health Commissioner Dr. Swannie Jett informed residents in a statement that they would not be complying with the new rules.

"Out of an abundance of caution and in our residents' best interests, the town of Brookline will not follow suit with the state's decision to lift the outdoor mask mandate today," Jett said. "Our face covering requirement has served as a protective layer that limits the possibility of spreading COVID-19 and we are reluctant to relax it at this time without further public input and review by the Advisory Council on Public Health."

The Salem Board of Health also opted to keep the mask mandate in place despite the new statewide guidance. In a phone interview with the Boston Globe, Chairman Dr. Jeremy Schiller argued, "We have to couple an abundance of caution with the consideration that people are probably exhausted with dealing with the pandemic and want some latitude — particularly for those who are vaccinated."

"We have to follow the science and follow the [pandemic] trends in our city," he added.

Officials in both communities plan to convene next week to discuss their plans moving forward, but both seemed to think it was ill-advised to go along with federal or state rules without consulting their own data.

"We don't just want to make a decision now and follow CDC or follow the state of Massachusetts without doing our due diligence," Jett told the Boston Globe.

Baker updated the statewide rules last week in accordance with new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on outdoor mask use for fully vaccinated Americans.

The federal health agency announced that "fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors, except in certain crowded settings and venues" such as for sporting events or concerts.

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