Reading, MA — In one all-encompassing motion, the Board of Health voted 3-0 to rescind all COVID-19 related orders, dating back to March 11, 2021. This action came as a result of dropping case numbers in town in conjunction with the high percentage of persons who have been vaccinated from the virus. Governor Charlie Baker has lifted the state of emergency in the Commonwealth as of June 15. The state of emergency for the Town of Reading will end on the same day.
Board of Health chair Dr. Richard Lopez worked with town counsel to word the motion in such a manner as to allow it to cover all orders issued since last year and not requiring each order to be rescinded separately. Board of Health Vice-Chair Kerry Dunnell referred to the action as “the right way to approach this.” Dunnell continued, praising all members of the board past and present for their handling of the pandemic. “[They] went at it with a problem-solving attitude,” Dunnell exclaimed.
Board of Health associate member Kevin Sexton, who was a full member of the board when the pandemic started, mentioned that the Board of Health as the pandemic was starting had been ahead of the state on many issues. He also praised the public health and public school nurses who worked in town during the pandemic. “[The nurses’ work] far exceeded our thanks,” Sexton commented.
The motion did endorse any COVID-19 related guidance that may be issued by the state from this point forward. It also does not impact the Board of Health’s authority to issue any future COVID-19 related orders, should they be deemed necessary.
Community Services Director Kevin Bohmiller shared plans with the board for the reopening of the Pleasant Street Center. An open house is scheduled for June 15 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, with programming beginning on June 16. Bohmiller described June as a “slow opening.” Each day during the month will consist of only one morning activity and one-afternoon activity. All of the activities will be held in the large first-floor meeting area. The only activities on the second floor will be individual counseling and assistance. Masks will not be required for vaccinated patrons, though many staff will continue to wear masks while in the center.
Bohmiller reported that activities scheduled as the center opens include chair yoga, tai chi, strength and balance, and art classes. Cleaning of the space will occur between activities, and the doors will be opened as much as possible to allow for air circulation. Also, a tent will be erected on the patio area to allow for outdoor activities. As the center opens, there will be no congregate lunches, card game activities, hairdressers, or Zumba classes.
“The goal is to provide a comfortable and safe environment.” Bohmiller declared. He also shared that activities in the center would be expanded in the coming months and assessed on a case-by-case basis.