Board of Health Reinstates Mask Mandate

Reading, MA — By a vote of 3-0, the Board of Health approved a mask mandate for all indoor public spaces in the Town of Reading on Thursday. The mandate will go into effect on Friday, January 7 at 12:01 am. At that time all persons over the age of two will need to wear a mask while indoors in a public space such as a store, or other business. Masks may be removed in restaurants while engaged in eating or drinking.

In addition, the board recommends the use of N95 or KN95 masks and discourages the use of cloth masks alone. The board also recommends that all public government meetings be held virtually unless the chair of the committee in question deems an in-person meeting to be essential.

Board of Health Chair Richard Lopez also pointed out that facilities licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care are subject to the regulations by that department. Reading Public Schools, while in session, are subject to the regulations of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, although the mandate is in effect for other activities that may occur in school buildings.

In response to the vote, Board of Health Associate member Kevin Sexton urged the community to act as neighbors and friends during this time. He reminded residents that complaining to business owners and staff is not constructive. “Please give our businesses a break,” Sexton urged. 

Sexton also cautioned residents about informing the police if violations are observed. “The police are not the enforcement arm for this,” he added. Sexton pointed out that reports of violations could be made to the health department. He also warned residents against approaching individuals who may be in violation. “Do not approach people who are not wearing a mask to complain to them about not wearing a mask,” he concluded.

Public Health Director Adetokunbo Solarin shared that the health department could be reached at 781-942-6680.

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order of the Reading Board of Health

Notice is hereby given that on January 6, 2022, the Reading Board of Health adopted the following emergency order under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 111, §§ 31, 104, 122 and all other authorizing statutes:

Based upon review of current COVID-19 caseload and testing positivity rates in the Town of Reading and Middlesex County, the Board of Health held a meeting on January 6, 2022, and the Board of Health voted to adopt as a public health mandate the following indoor mask Emergency Order in the Town of Reading.

  1. Effective at 12:01am January 7, 2022, face coverings are required for all individuals older than two years of age in all indoor public spaces, houses of worship, public meetings, or private spaces open to the public except where an individual is unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability. The Board highly recommends the use of N95, KN95, or surgical masks. Due to the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, cloth masks alone are strongly discouraged.
  2. Public meetings are strongly recommended to be held remotely except where in-person meetings are deemed essential by the chair.
  3. Food service establishment customers may only remove face coverings when seated and engaged in the act of eating and drinking.
  4. Indoor performance venue customers may only remove face coverings when engaged in the act of eating and drinking, if permitted in the venue. Indoor performers may remove their face coverings while they are performing if they maintain at least six feet of distance from the nearest customer or attendee.
  5. Residents, employees, and guests in multi-unit homes and apartment complexes are required to wear face coverings when inside hallways and other common areas.
  6. Fitness Center/Health Club workers, customers, and visitors are required to wear face coverings during fitness activity, including strenuous activity.
  7. At Personal Services establishments, including, but not limited to, barber shops, hair and nail salons, all customers and workers are required to wear face coverings, except for skin or beard care that occurs on the face, where the customer may temporarily remove the face covering but must immediately put the face covering back on for the remainder of the visit.
  8. Masks remain mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, and buses), in healthcare facilities, and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings, as directed by the Governor and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  9. This Order excludes entities licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), which are required to follow EEC guidance; however, this Order shall apply to entities operating as a daycare that are not licensed by EEC. This Order excludes Reading Public Schools, which are required to follow guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; however, Reading Public School buildings and facilities, when used for non-school-related activities, are subject to this Order.
  10. All entry doors of businesses open to the public must post notice advising customers that face masks must be worn inside the establishment. Establishment staff must supervise and enforce this requirement. If a customer refuses to wear a mask or face covering for non-medical reasons, a business must decline entry to the individual for the business to avoid violation of this Order.
  11. To the extent required, this Order shall be enforced by the Reading Board of Health and its authorized agents. Violations of this Order may be punished by a civil fine, if after a verbal education coupled with a written warning, of $300 per violation in the manner provided for non-criminal disposition of violations by MGL Chapter 40, § 21D.

This Order shall be reviewed by the Board of Health at each subsequent regular meeting and such other meetings as are posted by the Board and shall remain in effect until rescinded.

Order approved by a 3-0 vote of the Board of Health on January 6, 2022.

Richard Lopez, Chair
Reading Board of Health

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