Updated 5:21 p.m.
Massachusetts will relax its mask mandate starting Friday, when face coverings will be encouraged — but not required — outdoors when you can safely socially distance. The regulation is similar to one in place in Massachusetts for much last year.
"Effective April 30, face covering will only be required outside in public when it's not possible to socially distance or as may be required by sector specific guidance, such as event guidance," Gov. Charlie Baker said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference announcing the new guidelines, which cover maks, gathering limits, capacity for restaurants, the reopening of bars and wineries and more.
The Baker Administration expects to lift most COVID workplace restrictions by the end of July.
"We anticipate that, as of Aug. 1, all remaining industries will be permitted to open and all sectors will be able to operate at 100% capacity with all industry restrictions lifted," Baker said.
Boston and Somerville are taking a slightly slower path.
According to Baker, beginning May 10, outdoor venues such as amusement parks and outdoor water parks will be able to operate at 50% capacity and stadiums to fill 25% of their seats.
Indoor singing, road races with staggered starts and other organized athletic events can also resume May 10.
According to the Baker administration, the decision to further reopen was based on a drop in case rates by 20% since March and positivity rates that are at their lowest level since last summer.
"Because of the public health metrics have continued to improve, the Commonwealth will continue to the next steps of our reopening plan," Baker said.
On May 29, the state will relax it's gathering limits to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors. Street festivals and parades can operate at 50% capacity. Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries, technically closed since last March if they don't serve food, can reopen May 29. Table sizes at restaurants will increase to 10 patrons and the requirement that food be served with alcohol will be eliminated.
The state will drop all other industry capacity restrictions and end the gathering limits entirely starting August 1. Dance clubs and nightclubs can reopen starting August 1, along with indoor water parks and ball pits. Saunas, hot-tubs and steam rooms can also reopen in August. In the governor's press release, his administration said they may reevaluate the August 1 date for a full reopening.
With the exception of Fenway, TD Garden and other large venues, the city of Boston is going to reach its reopening phases three weeks behind the rest of the state, according to acting Mayor Kim Janey.
"In some areas, Boston will join the Commonwealth in the next steps of reopening," Janey said at an afternoon press conference. "In other areas, Boston will need additional time."
Asked why the city will take a slower approach, Janey said the capital city is more urban than many of the jurisdictions Baker needs to cover in statewide guidelines.
"We are a denser community than many of the other municipalities or towns across the Commonwealth, and we have vulnerable populations here," Janey said.
Nearby Somerville is also taking a more cautious approach than the state and will reopen movie theaters and allow performances May 7, as well as increase gathering limits to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors.
The CDC issued new guidelines Tuesday indicating that fully vaccinated people need not wear a mask outdoors except in crowded areas.
Asked if he will require state employees to be vaccinated before they return back to work, Baker said, "I don't think we're going to require people to be vaccinated, no.
"It's still a free country the last time I checked," he added.
The governor's stance on a vaccine requirement for public employees is at odds with that of attorney general, and potential gubernatorial candidate, Maura Healey, who said less than an hour earlier on Boston Public Radio she thinks all state employees should be vaccinated.