Statewide Mask Guidelines Spark Debate

Priya+Mallidi+23+and+Alison+Rimas+23+talk+outside+after+school.

Edan Zinn

Priya Mallidi ’23 and Alison Rimas ’23 talk outside after school.

Marlie Kass, Journalist

As nationwide vaccine distribution grows each day, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a statement Tuesday describing updated guidelines for wearing face masks.

In the press release, Baker stated that the order to wear face masks outdoors will be relaxed starting this Friday, following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention early this week.

“Face coverings will only be required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times required by sector-specific guidance,” the statement reads.

After public health officials have urged residents to wear face coverings in public for over a year, the statement indicates a shift in guidance on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Ugo Adiele ‘23 strongly disagrees with Baker’s decision, saying it is “extremely irresponsible” to make the call this early.

“COVID-19 is still here and it’s in our best interest to continue wearing masks, no matter how uncomfortable they may be,” Adiele said. “Some people don’t even feel safe leaving their homes as things are and I really don’t think this is helping. I hope that people continue to wear masks even if it is no longer mandatory.”

Avery Alperin ‘21, who has been making face masks throughout the pandemic, agreed that it feels too soon for a decision of this magnitude to be made.

“I would wait because we don’t know how the variant strains and such will react to the vaccine,” Alperin said.

Grace Kandiah ‘23 made a comparison between mask-wearing guidelines in the U.S. and those in the Netherlands.

“In Holland, there have been no masks necessary when you’re outside six feet apart the entire time,” Kandiah said. “However, people don’t always stick to that, which I’m worried will happen here.”

With Massachusetts’ decision, Kandiah echos the words of others when she said that she is “excited to be able to breathe outside again.”

An infographic describes activities deemed safe and less safe per CDC guidance. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)