Sunday, May 19, 2024

A citywide mask mandate relaxes March 14. A city worker is seen masked outdoors Jan. 29. (Photo: Tyler Motes)

Cambridge is lifting its mask requirement for indoor public places effective at 11:59 p.m. March 13, crediting “a steady decrease in reported cases, test positivity and Covid-19 virus detection in the City’s municipal wastewater monitoring program” in a Wednesday announcement. 

That puts the city in line with state Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance that it called consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suggestions as of March 14 and will not require the use of face masks in indoor public places in Cambridge. Neighboring Somerville hasn’t announced a change in its rules as of Wednesday, and everyone 2 or older must still wear a mask indoors.

The city last changed its rules Oct. 2, returning to a strict mask requirement from earlier in the pandemic  that mandated face coverings outdoors whether or not people can maintain social distancing of 6 feet, as well as a more stringent directive requiring masks inside hallways, stairs and other common areas of all residential buildings except single-family homes.

The city reported 54 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday. The new infections resulted in an average case rate of 32.5 cases per 100,000 population over the previous seven days –  higher than at any time since the peak of the January 2021 surge, according to city figures.

“I’m glad to see the number of cases decrease – although they are still higher than the lowest point, there are fewer hospitalizations. I hope the public health outcomes continue to trend in a direction of fewer cases,” city councillor Patty Nolan said.

Still, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 92 percent of residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, 76 percent of residents are fully vaccinated and 45 percent have received a booster dose, said Lee Gianetti, the city’s director of communications and community relations.

Nolan said she looked forward to hearing how the city made its decision and which medical and scientific advice it followed.

By the city’s rules, masks will still be required for all employees and visitors in municipal buildings, regardless of vaccination status, through March 27.

“Many people will still choose to wear masks in certain places and situations after the mask requirement ends, and the Cambridge Public Health Department has provided information on finding high-quality masks. In addition, masks continue to be required on public and private transportation and in health care facilities and other specified settings,” Gianetti said in the Wednesday press release.

Sue Reinert contributed to this report.