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Boston Will Stop Requiring Masks in Restaurants and Other Indoor Spaces on March 5

Businesses can still make their own rules, though

A sign reading “masks required” is posted on a door. A woman wearing a mask and holding a cup of coffee stands nearby.
A sign posted at Quincy Market in downtown Boston notes that masks are required.
Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The city of Boston will end its indoor mask mandate for most spaces — including restaurants — on March 5, 2022, with city officials citing improving COVID-19 numbers. The decision follows a recommendation from Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. Masks will continue to be required in certain places, such as on public transportation and in healthcare facilities.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” announced Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, “with declining COVID positivity rates, less strain on our healthcare system, and vaccination rates higher than ever.” Nearly 72% of city residents are fully vaccinated, according to data from mid-February 2022. As of the end of February, there are around 120 adult COVID hospitalizations per day and 87% adult ICU bed occupation, where 95% for five straight days is the city’s threshold for concern.

Wu lifted the city’s proof-of-vaccine mandate for indoor dining and other indoor activities on February 18, 2022, after the city met several benchmarks related to bed occupancy in intensive care units, hospitalizations per day, and community positivity rate. The mask mandate remained in place at the time, though.

Individual businesses can still set their own rules about masks and proof of vaccination, and the Boston Public Health Commission is recommending that some people continue to mask in indoor public spaces, including those who are at higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 or those who will be around more vulnerable people, such as young children who are still not eligible for the vaccine.

Nearby, Cambridge will end its indoor mask requirement on March 13, 2022, and Somerville’s Board of Health will hold a meeting on March 3, 2022, to discuss whether to end Somerville’s requirement. Medford ended its requirement in February, as did Malden and Newton.