Starting Friday, Massachusetts will no longer mandate face masks outdoors where social distancing is possible, state officials announced Tuesday.
“Face coverings will only be required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times required by sector-specific guidance,” new state guidance reads. “Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places. Face coverings will also continue to be required at all times at events, whether held indoors or outdoors and whether held in a public space or private home, except for when eating or drinking.”
At small gatherings in private homes, face coverings are still recommended but not required. Additionally, the $300 enforcement fine will be eliminated.
Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to discuss the next steps of the state’s reopening plan at a news conference scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday at the Massachusetts State House.
State officials also announced Tuesday a timeline for further industries reopening and loosening gathering restrictions.
Starting on May 10, large venues – including indoor and outdoor stadiums – will be allowed to increase capacity to 25%.
The change comes a day before the WooSox kick off their inaugural season at Polar Park in Worcester. Before Tuesday’s announcement, the ballpark would have been expected to limit its Opening Day crowd to 1,140 fans, excluding staff and media.
Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for “moderate and high risk” sports. Road races and other athletic events will be allowed, but organizers bust first submit plans to local boards of health for approval.
The state Department of Public Health will also allow amusement parks and outdoor water parks to reopen at 50% capacity. Those businesses will also have to submit safety plans to local health officials.
Starting that Monday, singing will be permitted again in indoor venues, including concert halls and restaurants. Social distancing will remain mandated for these events.
DPH will implement other changes on May 29, including allowing gathering limits to grow to up to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.
At that point, wineries, breweries and bars will be allowed to reopen even if they are not serving food. Those businesses will have to stick to seated service — meaning no standing room and no dance floor. The maximum table size will be expanded to 10 people from 6 and social distancing requirements of 6 feet will remain in effect.
Street festivals and parades will be allowed to resume at 50% capacity.
For the first time, the state suggested a tentative end date for the bulk of COVID-related restrictions on the state economy.
Remaining industries that have been ordered to remain closed during the pandemic will be allowed to reopen. This includes: dance clubs, night clubs, saunas, steam rooms, indoor water parks and ball pits to reopen.
That same day, the state will rescind the gathering limit and let all businesses operate at 100% capacity.
Businesses will be “encouraged to continue following best practices” with state health officials issuing guidance as needed.