MELROSE — During a public Board of Health Meeting on December 23, Melrose Board of Health officials voted to reinstate an indoor mask ordinance requiring face coverings for everyone ages 5 and older, with exceptions to be made in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines. The order went into effect on January 2. The Board of Health will revisit the order on February 8, 2022.
“I am grateful to everyone in Melrose who has done their part to protect themselves and our community throughout the entirety of this pandemic,” said Mayor Paul Brodeur. “This mask order for indoor public places gives us an opportunity to work together as a community to reduce the spread of the virus – to protect those who live, learn, and work in our beloved City.”
“I know we are all weary of these escalating case counts – Salem saw record highs in new cases this week – and the cancellations of special events, but we need to remain vigilant and continue to pull together to help our healthcare workers, hospitals, and neighbors as we tackle the Omicron variant, the most contagious variant to date,” added Mayor Brodeur. “While we expect this surge to continue for the next few weeks, I know we can do this! Wearing a mask, getting vaccinated and boosted helps curb this serious illness. The City will also continue to work with our public health officials to respond to the pandemic using a data and science informed approach.”
The mask ordinance applies to all public and private indoor spaces that include, but are not limited to:
• Congregate care settings
• Restaurants & bars (except while actively eating or drinking)
• Social clubs
• Houses of worship
• Event spaces
• Municipal buildings
• Fitness centers
The order comes as public health data released recently showed local total COVID cases over 3,000. Melrose’s two-week positive test rate was at 5.81 percent, and MelroseWakefield hospital saw the number of COVID patients increase from about seven or eight a few weeks ago to 31. On December 23, the state reported another single-day record of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Director of Health for Melrose and Wakefield, Anthony Chui, said masks offer an important layer of protection. The Health Department recommends wearing K95 or N95 masks, if possible, in crowded spaces. The next best option is to wear masks with two more layers of washable breathable fabric, or a blue surgical mask with a cloth mask over that. The most effective way to wear a mask is to have it completely cover your nose and mouth; fit snugly against the sides of your face with no gaps; and wear masks that have nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of mask. Additional information on how to wear and care for your masks, click here.
“Whether you are vaccinated, boosted, or none of the above, wearing a mask can help keep you and our community safer and healthier,” said Chui. “Scientific evidence continues to point out that the best way to prevent COVID-19 from spreading is continuing the strategies we know work: regular testing, masking, social distancing, hand washing, and complying with contact tracers. Getting vaccinated and boosted also remains the most powerful tool we have to keep people healthy.”
Those who do not follow the guidance of the Board of Health will be subject to $50 fines for first offenses, $100 for second offenses and third for $150 and subsequent offenses. The Board of Health said the goal of the mask ordinance is not to be punitive, rather, it is intended to be both educational and preventative.
Melrose remains one of the most vaccinated communities in Massachusetts, with 90 percent of eligible residents receiving at least one vaccination and approximately 80% of eligible residents being fully vaccinated. For more information, maps, and resources about the COVID-19 response in Melrose, visit coronavirus-response-melrose-ma-melrosema.hub.arcgis.com. If you need help getting a vaccine or booster, please visit http://vaxfinder.mass.gov