Massachusetts Relaxes Outdoor Mask Requirement and Announces Future Rollback and Lifting of Business Restrictions

Effective April 30, 2021, Order 67 relaxes the Commonwealth’s mask mandate, requiring a face covering outside in public only when not possible to socially distance, or as otherwise required by sector-specific guidance. Face coverings are still required in public indoor places and at all indoor and outdoor events, whether private or public, except when eating or drinking. Some towns, such as Brookline and Salem, have kept the outdoor mask mandate in place – please be sure to check local rules for your area.

With respect to business operations, Massachusetts is currently in Phase 4 Step 1 of its reopening plan. Our overview of current restrictions in the Commonwealth and throughout New England is available here.

Governor Baker recently announced some reopening and capacity changes effective May 10 as part of Phase 4 Step 2, including the following:

  • Large venues (indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks) may increase capacity to 25%
  • Amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks may operate at a 50% capacity following submission of a safety plan to DPH
  • Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events may take place with staggered starts after submitting a safety plan
  • Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments allowed for moderate and high risk sports
  • Singing permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues, and other businesses

Effective May 29, gathering limits are expected to increase to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors for event venues and public and private settings. Also on May 29, the following will be permitted:

  • Street festivals, parades, and agricultural festivals may operate at 50% of their previous capacity and after submitting safety plans
  • Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries may open subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90 minute limit, and no dance floors
  • Restaurants are no longer required to serve food with alcohol; maximum table size increased to 10 people

Pending vaccine distribution and health data, all industry restrictions are expected to be lifted August 1, at which point capacity will increase to 100% across the board, and gathering limits will likewise be lifted.

Please note that some communities have enacted additional restrictions to combat COVID-19 spread locally. For example, Boston will follow the statewide reopening timeline on a three-week delay. A notable exception is that capacity at indoor and outdoor stadiums, including Fenway Park, will increase from 12% to 25% on May 10 at the same time as the rest of the state.

For questions on how these orders affect your business, please contact firm attorneys Kathleen Hamann or Sarah Remes.