Friday, May 24, 2024

While the need for masks in crowded areas remains, socially distanced people can take their masks off again, the city says. (Photo: Tyler Motes)

Cambridge will go along with Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to relax mask requirements when people are outdoors and can safely distance, the city announced Thursday. The city will also move into Phase IV, Step 1, of the governor’s reopening plan, which the state had authorized March 22.

Masks can come off Friday when 6 feet or more from other people, “similar to Cambridge’s approach last summer,” the day after the announcement, the city said. It could take time for residents to let down their masks after having worn them outside at least since last fall: An unscientific survey early Friday found most pedestrians in one section of Cambridgeport were still masked. Masks will still be required inside businesses and in common areas of residential buildings of two units or more. And people must continue to wear masks at outdoor events unless they are eating or drinking.

People who wander across town lines to Somerville will find matching rules. “We now know that outdoor transmission, especially when people can socially distance, is very low. But we do still need to be vigilant and remember to mask up when we can’t distance from others or when we’re indoors,” said Doug Kress, that city’s director of Health and Human Services.

On May 6, attendance at public events can increase to 150 people outdoors and 100 people indoors, in line with Phase IV, Step 1. The city had kept the limit at 100 people outdoors and 50 indoors. Large sports and entertainment venues can reopen at 12 percent capacity.

Also on May 6, the city will drop special restrictions for health clubs and fitness centers that had required them to reduce capacity and establish time limits for customers. All other Covid precautions, such as banning live music at restaurants, will remain in place.

City Manager Louis A. DePasquale had given indications Monday that the city would move toward more relaxed Covid-19 rules, telling city councillors that he had informed the business community that Cambridge would “become more in line” with other communities if Covid-19 cases continued to drop and vaccinations increased. The announcement Thursday said if the trend continued the city would “more closely align future reopening decisions” with the governor’s roadmap announced Tuesday, with possible delays.

The next date in Baker’s plan is May 10, when large entertainment and sports venues can operate at 25 percent capacity, singing will be allowed indoors, certain youth and adult sports tournaments can be held, and road races can occur with staggered starts. These changes would move the state to Phase IV, Step 2. The city’s announcement on Thursday said it would post updates at

As of Thursday, the one-week average rate of new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Cambridge was 8.5 cases per 100,000 population, down from 22.1 cases on April 13, according to the city’s Covid-19 data center. A total of 59 percent of residents had received at least one dose of vaccine and 32 percent were fully vaccinated. Asian and Hispanic residents continue to get a smaller share of total vaccine doses than their share of the Cambridge population.