As CDC recommendations change, indoor mask wearing in Boston remains mostly automatic
The first weekend after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated people could safely go indoors without a mask, store owners and customers largely appeared to be sticking to state rules.
Wearing a face mask indoors seems like a deep-rooted reflex, according to businesses and buyers at Grove Hall and Newbury Street on Saturday.
“It would be weird not to wear it,” said Nichole M., 28, of Boston, a Newbury Street shopper who declined to give her last name as she stood outside a clothing store. A friend walked out of the store, removing a mask on her way out.
On Saturday, the state said it had administered an additional 66,675 doses of the vaccine the day before, bringing the total of those fully vaccinated to 3,175,284. The state also reported 657 new cases and 5 new deaths from the virus.
The CDC announced Thursday that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor environments, but current Massachusetts rules require masks both indoors and out. outside if social distancing is not possible. Gov. Charlie Baker said the restrictions could be updated early this week.
Although vaccination rates are rising and deaths are falling, wearing a mask is a complicated problem, even for scientists, according to Samuel Scarpino, an epidemiologist at Northeastern University, especially since many people have suffered trauma throughout the pandemic.
He said the science supported the CDC’s guidance and said the vaccines available are effective in blocking much of the transmission of COVID-19.
“The problem is how this translated into a policy recommendation, that is, security depends on the number of people vaccinated, the percentage and frequency of COVID,” said Scarpino.
CDC guidelines, he said, should have been more closely tied to these factors.
“I think the CDC could have included this nuance more directly in their updated guidelines,” he said.
Many people have become accustomed to wearing masks indoors, especially workers in shops and restaurants, and many may continue to be hesitant to get rid of them now.
The CDC guidelines should also have addressed those concerns, he said.
“We need to have serious conversations about employee safety who often don’t have a say,” said Scarpino.
Scarpino, who disagrees with many of the measures Baker took during the pandemic, said he hoped the governor will consider these issues as part of any updated mask-wearing guidelines in Massachusetts.
“He has often been compassionate and understanding and he clearly understands the complexity and nuances. . . I am cautiously optimistic that his announcement will reflect this, ”said Scarpino.
At this point, many business owners said they were used to the contradictions between city, state, federal and company guidelines, as well as the sudden twists and turns of the pandemic.
“Right now we’re talking about this; tomorrow could be another stop, ”said Goddy Joint, manager of Porta Classica, a men’s clothing store in Grove Hall.
Shortly before that, Firas Yousif pointed out that the city was often behind on state and federal government advice. “Boston is behind,” he says from the counter of his upscale evening wear boutique on Newbury Street. “It takes away business,” he said.
A few blocks from a hat store, manager Greg Petronio said decisions about mask rules were “above my pay level,” with company management setting standards, sometimes stricter than local rules, for the 14 Goorin Bros. stores. country.
Interviewees on Saturday gave a mix of views on wearing masks outdoors – where passers-by ranged from full face masks to chin masks, masks in hand to no masks in sight – but had little difference on interior requirements.
“I don’t think we’re ready to be inside without a mask,” said a customer, who gave only her first name, Tracy, at the African-Caribbean Back to the Roots store in Grove Hall. She wore a mask as a store worker sat on a small table outside the store without one.
The employee, Gia X, 52, said she didn’t even consider having clients without a mask inside anytime soon, but appreciated the opportunity to take her outside.
If the condition continues to return to normal, the store could eventually reuse the masks they made for another project, she said.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” replied the client, Tracy, 52, of Boston, with a laugh. “Keep these masks on sale.”
Newbury Street was crowded but less than before the pandemic, according to longtime street musician Donald Heller, 72, of Boston, who said he always wore a mask because “my boss said I had to. do ”- that is, his 42-year-old wife. .
“There may be fewer people,” he says, “but these people are feeling good.”
Spirits were also high at a graffiti art festival in a lot across from the Grove Hall Boston Public Library branch.
“In general, I would tend to wear a mask,” said Ed Gaskin, executive director of Mainstreets at Great Grove Hall. Walking into the stores, he said, “I don’t need one more reason for people to look at me because I’m black.”
He looked around the crowd and laughed at the mix of people with and without masks outside, joking, “People think if someone didn’t wear a mask it would be black graffiti artists.”
Gaskin said he was not wearing a mask when he came because the event is taking place outside, but put one on after reading the crowd.
Devin Allen, 30, of East Boston, said the opposite: he showed up with a mask, but read the crowd and took it off.
As a TSA officer at Logan International Airport, Allen said he saw the confusion CDC guidelines can bring.
On Thursday, shortly after the new guidelines were announced, he said he asked a traveler to put on a mask. At first, the traveler held up his phone with the CDC news, saying “oh, didn’t you hear?”
He said the traveler complied at the end and Allen skipped the episode.
“It’s like a crossroads of all of this,” he said.