Legal Update

May 17, 2021

Massachusetts To End Most COVID-19 Restrictions By May 29 and Lift State Of Emergency On June 15

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Seyfarth Synopsis: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced today that the Commonwealth will end most COVID-19 restrictions by May 29.  Some industries, including health care, schools, and the transportation sectors, must continue to require individuals to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced today that Massachusetts would end most COVID-19 restrictions by May 29 and lift the state of emergency on June 15. The Governor’s decision to accelerate the timetable for reopening comes as a result of revised vaccination projections indicating that the Commonwealth is on track to vaccinate 4.1 million residents by June 2. Changes to the previously established timetables include the following:

  • On May 29, all industries will be permitted to reopen, industry-specific restrictions will be lifted, and all industries will be permitted to operate at 100% capacity. All industries will be encouraged to follow CDC guidance and hygiene protocols (read Seyfarth’s Legal Update on last week’s CDC guidance).
  • In addition, the Commonwealth will rescind all gathering limits and the mask mandate will be lifted and replaced with an advisory in line with the guidance issued by the CDC. The new advisory will allow vaccinated individuals to no longer wear masks or socially distance in most settings. The advisory will recommend that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear masks in indoor settings. Businesses, however, may continue their mask mandates beyond May 29 at their option.
  • All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, will still be required to wear masks in public or private transportation settings, in schools, in nursing homes, or in other locations with vulnerable populations.
  • Effective May 18, masks will no longer be required for youth and amateur sports and other outdoor activities in K-12 and childcare settings. On May 29, the Baker-Polito Administration will issue updated guidance for summer camps that will no longer require masks for outdoor activities.

Following Governor Baker’s announcement, Acting Mayor of Boston Kim Janey announced that the City of Boston would follow the statewide reopening plan. Although Boston has adopted the statewide plan for reopening, other municipalities may choose to continue certain COVID-19 restrictions beyond May 29.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration also announced in a website update today that it is “reviewing the recent CDC guidance and will update our materials on this website accordingly.” Until then, it said, employers and workers should refer to the CDC guidance for information “on measures appropriate to protect fully vaccinated workers.”

Accordingly, pending any further orders from the Commonwealth or municipalities, or further guidance from OSHA or the CDC, as of May 29, Massachusetts will recommend — rather than require — masks for unvaccinated individuals while indoors.

We will keep you updated on any further developments.  Please contact any of the authors or your Seyfarth attorney with any questions.