ARLINGTON — Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno wishes to inform residents that the Board of Health voted Wednesday to require masks in all public and private spaces that are open to the public, effective Thursday.
The vote was taken due to an increase in COVID-19 Delta Variant infections among both unvaccinated and vaccinated residents since July, and an advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending that everyone in areas of substantial and high transmission wear a mask while indoors regardless of vaccination status.
“The board supported an advisory for residents last week, but as the case data continues to trend upward, the board has decided that immediate intervention is necessary to slow the spread,” said Director Bongiorno. “As such, while Middlesex County remains a CDC-designated area of high or substantial transmission, face coverings will be required for those inside any indoor space that is open to the public.”
The CDC’s transmission map shows Middlesex County has gone from being an area of substantial transmission last week to an area of high transmission this week. Arlington’s positive rate has also been increasing, with 40 positive cases in town as of Aug. 11, and 77 positive cases as of Wednesday. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority also reports that sewage data for the region shows an upward trend in COVID-19 in wastewater.
Starting Thursday, face coverings will be required for all persons 2 years old and over at all times when inside public or private spaces that are open to the public, with an exception for those unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability.
If a customer at a business in town refuses to wear a mask or cloth face covering for non-medical reasons, the business may decline entry to that individual.
- Food service establishment customers may only remove face coverings when seated.
- Performance venue customers may only remove face coverings in the actual act of eating and drinking. Indoor performers are required to wear face coverings, except where they are able to maintain a minimum of 25 feet of distance from members of the audience. Indoor bar and dance venue customers may only remove face coverings when seated at tables or seated at a bar. Patrons standing or ordering at the bar must be masked. Guests must be masked on indoor dance floors.
- Lodging guests and workers are required to wear face coverings when inside hallways and common areas.
- Residents, visitors and employees in multi-unit homes and apartments are required to wear face coverings when inside common hallways and spaces.
- Members, visitors and employees in private membership clubs are required to wear face coverings while indoors. Houses of worship are covered by this order.
- Fitness Centers/Health Clubs workers, customers, and visitors are required to wear face coverings during fitness activity, including strenuous activity.
- At personal services establishments, including but not limited to barber shops, hair and nail salons, all customers and workers are required to wear face coverings, except for skin or beard care that occurs on the face, the customer may temporarily remove the face covering but must immediately put the face covering back on for the remainder of the visit.
- Masks remain mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings.
- All businesses open to the public must post signage (i.e. entry ways, points of service, etc.) advising customers that facemasks must be maintained inside the establishment. Establishment staff must supervise and enforce this requirement.
The mandate will be in effect whenever the level of community transmission data from the CDC shows Middlesex County as an area of substantial or high transmission over a consecutive two-week period.
The mandate will no longer be in effect once the CDC categorizes Middlesex County as an area of low or moderate transmission over a consecutive two-week period.
To view the CDC’s transmission map, click here.