Mass. restaurants welcome back customers without restrictions

SE Mass

BOSTON (WPRI/AP) — It’s back to nearly normal in Massachusetts.

Gov. Charlie Baker lifted almost all COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday including a statewide face covering mandate that has been in place during much of the pandemic.

The mandate is being replaced with a mask advisory that echoes recommendations from federal health officials. Unvaccinated individuals are still encouraged to wear masks in public areas, especially indoors.

There are still locations where masks will be required, including on public transportation.

Baker has also said that some businesses may still require customers and visitors to continue wearing masks inside. Customers should respect those businesses and don a mask while inside, he said Friday.

Some of the hardest hit businesses have been restaurants, which can now welcome back visitors for indoor dining without restrictions.

“Today is the day,” said George Mihailides, Jr., owner of Eats restaurant in Seekonk. “We’ve been wearing the masks 11 hours a day and it’s very daunting, it’s hot, it’s a hot kitchen. Today I was very happy to take the mask off.”

“If you’re fully vaccinated, masks are optional,” he added.

About half the state’s population is fully vaccinated.

Baker will officially lift Massachusetts’ pandemic state of emergency on June 15.

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