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New mask mandate frequently asked questions

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Mayor's Office

We have answers to some of the common questions around the City of Boston's new mask mandate.

Q: Where and when do I need to wear a mask or face covering?

A: Masks or face coverings will be required by staff and customers over the age of two at all indoor establishments that are open to the public. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • restaurants
  • retail establishments
  • gyms and indoor fitness centers
  • performances spaces and theaters
  • museums, and
  • cultural and historical sites.

Patrons may only remove masks or face coverings at a covered indoor establishment when actively eating or drinking.

Q: What if my business is not open to the public?

A: This mandate does not apply to offices or businesses that are not open to the public.

Q: If I am hosting or attending a private event that is not open to the public, do I need to wear a mask or face covering?

A: If your event is held in an indoor space that is open to the public (e.g. a hotel ballroom, social club, convention center, etc.), all attendees must wear masks or face coverings at all times except when actively eating or drinking. This mandate does not apply to events held at private residences or outdoors.

Q: Are musical and other live performances still allowed at restaurants and other indoor venues?

A: Yes! Performers may remove their masks or face coverings while they are performing as long as they maintain at least six feet of distance from the nearest customer or attendee.

Q: Are there special masking and/or distancing requirements for live performers?

A: Consistent with the previous answer, performers may remove their masks or face coverings while they are performing as long as they maintain at least six feet of distance from the nearest customer or attendee. Performers participating in indoor activities without an audience (including rehearsals and live-streaming performances) are not subject to this mandate.

Q: Does this mandate apply to events held in outdoor tents?

A: The mask mandate will not apply to events held inside a tent or temporary structure where at least one side of the structure is completely open.

Q: Why is the City instituting a mask mandate now?

A: We have seen public health metrics trending in the wrong direction over the past several weeks due to the Delta variant. This, coupled with the CDC’s recommendation for indoor masking in Suffolk county, informs the decision to institute this mandate.

Q: When does this mandate go into effect?

A: This mandate will go into effect at 8 a.m. on Friday, August 27, 2021.

Q: What metrics will the City use in determining when to update or rescind this mandate?

A: This mandate will remain in place until we see a consistent downtrend in the City’s health data and community transmission levels are downgraded. 

Q: Will any exemptions be granted?

A: At this time, the City does not anticipate granting any exemptions to the mandate. For specific questions, please contact the appropriate agency listed at the end of this document.

Q: How will the mandate be enforced?

A:The Licensed Premise Unit will continue to work with Licensees to educate them on how to comply with the mandate. The Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission may seek the assistance of other City of Boston agencies in ensuring compliance with this order.

Q: I have a question about whether this mandate applies to me or my business. Who do I contact?

A: If you are a restaurant owner or other premise licensed by the City of Boston with questions specific to licensing, please contact: licensingboard@boston.gov.

If you are in any other sector impacted by this mandate, or you have general questions, please call 311 or contact: smallbiz@boston.gov.

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