Mayor Wu: City meeting “very soon” on Boston’s indoor mask mandate

BOSTON — Boston Mayor Michelle Wu says the City’s Board of Health will be meeting “very soon” to discuss the city’s indoor public mask mandate.

Speaking at a Wednesday morning event, the mayor addressed the frustration being felt by some people who feel it’s time to rescind the order, which has been in place since September 2021.

“I know the toll that it’s taken on our systems across the city and our families and workforce to feel like we are constantly lurching from surge to surge and when is this happening, when is that happening,” said Wu.

The city dropped its proof of vaccine requirement for certain indoor spaces last Friday when three health metrics being measured by health officials dropped below certain threshold levels.

Now, the board of health will be addressing the threshold metrics needed to lift the order on masks in indoor places.

“It can be quite confusing what rules apply to what areas across the city,” said Wu.

“So, we’re looking to add a framework that will provide some certainty moving forward and to help really open up the decision-making process and ensure we are creating some metrics and creating some plans so that as we head out of this surge we’re not just putting it in the back of mind but preparing for it next year as well.”

The mayor did not get into what specific metrics will be tracked, however.

“The Board of Health and Dr. Ojikutu will be taking that up but as of this moment, there are no metrics to announce,” said Wu.

Across the city of Boston, anticipation has been building over when the masks can come off.

“It’s frustrating that no one seems to have a clear idea of when this is going to end,” said Kent Newton, owner of Kent Newton Salon in Boston’s South End.

Newton’s salon implemented a mandatory vaccination policy before it was mandated by the city.

He said he’s taken the rules very seriously all along but is growing impatient.

“I stand here for eight hours a day in a mask,” he explained. “I have to run out in between clients to get air!”

Boston is among at least 15 remaining Massachusetts communities that have yet to make a decision on their mask mandates.

“Many public health experts are now saying that this is the right time to talk about dropping mandates and moving to a phase in the pandemic where people take personal responsibility for their own health,” said Dr. Shira Doron, Tufts Medical Center’s epidemiologist.

Dr. Doron pointed out two factors: plummeting case numbers and a new model that estimates that 73 percent of Americans have some immunity to the Omicron variant.

“There are so many factors that make this the right time to at least be talking about it if not actually doing it,” added Doron.

However, Doron explained that some of the metrics that health experts previously relied on are flawed.

For example, she said percent positivity does not factor in all of the testing that is happening in people’s homes.

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