Mass. businesses try to find ‘balance’ with state’s mask mandate

BOSTON — After losing her mother and several relatives to COVID-19, Margarita Milla said she takes the threat of COVID-19 extremely serious. That’s why there’s a box of masks right next to the front door of her women’s clothing store, “Gypsy Boutique Inc.”

“It’s like you’re in your mom’s house. You can do whatever you want outside, but in her house there are rules,” Milla said.

Milla said even if Gov. Charlie Baker announces Massachusetts will end the indoor mask mandate, she’s still going to ask her customers to put one on.

“If you are inside this store, you have to respect –I give you a free mask. I bought hundreds of free masks for prevention, you know?” Milla said.

The CDC announced Thursday fully vaccinated people can drop the masks and social distancing inside or outside in most situations. Shortly after the CDC made its announcement, Gov. Baker released a statement saying Massachusetts’s current mask order remains in place, but he will be updating the state’s COVID restrictions in the near future. So for now, when you’re indoors, you still need to put on your mask.

Baker tweeted Friday that he will be updating the state’s reopening plans “early next week.”

The latest guidance from the CDC is if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can resume activities indoor and outdoor without wearing a mask or social distancing.

There are still exceptions. Masks are still required for traveling on buses, trains and planes and that includes airports and public transit stations. If you haven’t been vaccinated or start to show symptoms of COVID, the CDC advises those people should still wear a mask. And for kids who are under 12 and aren’t eligible to get a shot, they still need to wear a mask to avoid getting and spreading the virus.

Local business owners are caught trying to balance what the CDC is saying with what is still required in Massachusetts.

“I’ve been just saying you still have to wear the mask. I have people walking by, it makes them nervous,” said Maura McColgan, owner of Joe’s Barber Shop in Walpole. McColgan said if Gov. Baker decides face covering are no longer required, she’s going to listen to what her customers say before she decides whether or not to throw the masks away for good.

“I think I will try to assess my customers and how they feel,” McColgan said.

And what about children? We know there’s no vaccine for small children, so will parents feel nervous about taking their kids into crowded places like the grocery store, if no one is required to cover-up?

“We’ll continue to wear a mask in indoor spaces, at least for a few weeks,” Andrew Flowers said.

Flowers still needs to get his second shot, but even when he is fully vaccinated, he said he and his children are going to keep wearing their masks.

“Even though the governor may say you can drop the mask when you’re indoors, for the next few weeks for personal reasons, but also to be respectful, I won’t. I’ll continue to wear a mask,” Flowers said.

So when might Massachusetts adopt the new guidelines? Last month when the CDC lifted the outdoor mask mandate, the state followed suit three days later.

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