2 Massachusetts towns uphold mask mandates as state loosens restrictions

Salem and Brookline will review the guidance at town meetings in the coming weeks

Two Massachusetts towns are ignoring health officials and requiring face masks outdoors despite the state adjusting its coronavirus guidance.

The town of Brookline, just outside of Boston, has decided to delay compliance with Massachusetts state orders to relax the use of masks outdoors.

Brookline is a college hub, with parts of Boston College and Boston University lying within the town, and Harvard University and MIT located nearby. A 2015 study found Brookline to be the second-most educated town in America. 

(AP)

Town manager Mel Kleckner and health commissioner Dr. Swannie Jett said Friday that the town’s own mask mandate would "remain in place until it is reviewed at the next Advisory Council on Public health meeting," WCVB reported

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"The town of Brookline will not follow suit with the state’s decision to lift the mask mandate today," Jett said of the announcement. "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."

Gov. Charlie Baker issued new guidance Friday that only required masks outdoors when it is not possible to socially distance. The guidance went into effect as of the announcement.

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Brookline officials, though, wants to maintain "an abundance of caution," claiming that they are acting in "residents’ best interests."

The town of Salem will also delay loosening any restrictions as they weigh the city’s positivity rate, the Boston Globe reported.

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"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," Board of Health Dr. Jeremy Schiller said in a phone interview. "We have to follow the science and follow the [pandemic] trends in our city."

State data indicates that Salem is a moderate-risk community with a positivity rate of 2.34%. The city’s Board of Health will meet May 11 to discuss the mandate.

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"We need to discuss how the new CDC and state guidelines fit into Salem specifically," Schiller said.