Just in time for the unofficial start of summer, COVID-19 restrictions in Massachusetts are ending.
All businesses are able to be open at full capacity, and gathering limits are no longer in effect. In most settings, masks will no longer need to be worn.
However, it is still worthwhile to keep one handy, officials said, since some businesses may still ask customers to mask up and they will still need to be worn in certain situations.
Additionally, some of the executive orders that were put in place to help town committees and restaurants navigate the pandemic have been extended.
Although it feels as though the pandemic is winding down, people across Cape Cod are still falling ill. To help the highest-risk patients, a new mobile treatment site has been opened on the campus of Cape Cod Hospital.
Ending COVID-19 Restrictions
With limited exceptions, all COVID-19 restrictions will be rescinded in Massachusetts tomorrow—just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
This means that all gathering and capacity limits, dining time limits, mask orders and industry closures will no longer be in effect, essentially fully reopening the state.
While no one will be required to wear a facial covering in most situations, people who have not been vaccinated are still encouraged to mask up when they are in indoor public locations such as the supermarket or shopping malls.
However, it is not wise to toss the mask just yet, regardless of vaccination status.
Masks will still need to be worn in some cases such as on public transportation, in medical buildings and by staff and students in K-12 schools.
Additionally, it is at the discretion of individual businesses as to whether masks will still be required in their buildings.
Residents and visitors are asked to have patience and be respectful as fellow residents and business owners navigate the transition away from pandemic measures.
Extended Emergency Measures
Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. filed legislation that will extend certain pandemic emergency measures, including Open Meeting Law requirements and outdoor dining.
The executive orders signed by the governor last year were set to expire on June 15, the day the State of Emergency was set to end.
The latest legislation will allow public committees such as select boards and school committees to continue to consider a quorum to be met in remote meeting situations as long as the public has access in some way to the meeting. This will now be extended until September 1.
Last year, towns were also given the ability to approve special permits allowing restaurants to create outdoor dining spaces in nontraditional areas such as sidewalks. These provisions have been extended through November 29.
Lastly, the executive order that prohibits medical providers from billing COVID-19 patients for emergency and inpatient services has been extended through January 1, 2022.
Mobile Treatment Unit
A mobile unit at Cape Cod Hospital is providing COVID-19 patients with monoclonal antibody therapy.
The unit, which is near the COVID-19 testing site on the hospital’s campus, has been in place since Wednesday.
This treatment involves transfusing COVID-19 patients with plasma from former patients who have recovered from the virus. A press release from Cape Cod Healthcare states that the therapy has proven effective in keeping high-risk patients out of the hospital.
The process takes about 20 minutes and patients are monitored for an hour after.
It has received emergency use authorization for high-risk patients by the Federal Drug Administration.
The treatment is available at no cost to patients, and the mobile unit will be open from 1 to 6 PM, Monday through Saturday.
The unit has the capacity to treat more than 30 patients per week. To be eligible for the treatment, patients need to meet the emergency use authorization definition of high-risk and should discuss with their primary physicians if the treatment is right for them.
By The Numbers
The rate of new COVID-19 cases on Cape Cod has been dropping steadily in the past month.
As of this week, fewer than 2 percent of COVID-19 tests in the county are coming back positive, and single-day increases are averaging in the single digits.
The average number of cases reported between May 20 and May 26 was nine per day. During the previous seven-day period, the average was 12 cases per day.
Barnstable County has not seen averages this low since October.
All four Upper Cape towns are currently considered low risk, with Bourne, Falmouth, and Mashpee represented in green (low) and Sandwich in gray (lowest).
The declining rate of cases is being attributed to the rising number of people who are becoming vaccinated against the virus.
According to a report issued by the Department of Public Health on Thursday, May 27, about 78 percent of all eligible residents (people over the age of 12) have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly 67 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.