Gov. Charlie Baker announces that the Commonwealth is on track to meet the goal of vaccination 4.1 million residents by the first week of June and all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted effective May 29 at a press conference on May 17. (Photo courtesy Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office)

Saying that the state is on track to meet a key vaccination goal by early June, Gov. Charlie Baker announced today that the state will lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on May 29 — allowing full operation of business activities and removing limits on gathering sizes — and adopt the latest federal guidance on mask wearing.

At a press conference, the governor said the state is now “safer, smarter and better equipped in this fight,” and is expected to meet its goal of fully vaccinating 4.1 million people by the first week of June.

In late April, the Baker administration had identified Aug. 1 as the target date for fully reopening, but with the caveat that it would continue to review public health data and adjust plans accordingly.

Gov. Baker also said he will end the current state of emergency on June 15, which would set an expiration date for a list of options made available to cities and towns during the pandemic.

The temporary changes gave municipalities the ability to hold meetings and hearings remotely, expedite permitting, alcohol licensing, and other special allowances for outdoor dining and downtown business activity, and allow no-excuse absentee ballots for local elections, among other provisions. Many of these options proved to be successful and popular, and the MMA is working with the administration and the Legislature to extend flexibilities granted to municipalities during the state of emergency.

The administration promised to work with legislative and municipal officials during this period to manage the transition away from emergency measures adopted by executive order and special legislation during the state of emergency.

Face coverings
The state will rescind its current mask order on May 29, meaning fully vaccinated individuals will no longer need to wear face coverings or physically distance themselves, indoors or outdoors, except in certain situations. The Department of Public Health will issue a new face-covering advisory consistent with the updated guidance that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on May 13.

People must still wear face coverings on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in health care facilities, and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings and health and rehabilitative day services.

The state will advise non-vaccinated individuals to keep wearing face masks and to continue distancing in most settings.

All industries will be encouraged to follow the CDC’s cleaning and hygiene protocols.

Schools and youth programs
Gov. Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and other state officials also made several COVID-related announcements affecting children and schools.

As of May 18, participants in youth and amateur sports age 18 and younger will no longer need to wear face coverings. On May 29, the state will lift all youth and amateur sports restrictions.

Also on May 18, masks will no longer be required for outdoor activities like recess in both K-12 and child care settings, and children will be allowed to share objects in classrooms. This guidance will remain in effect beyond May 29.

Early education providers and staff and students of K-12 schools will still be required to wear face coverings indoors.

On May 29, the administration will also release updated guidance for summer camps, which will no longer require masks for outdoor activities.

“Massachusetts is getting vaccinated faster than virtually any other state in the country,” Baker said at the press conference. “We’ve gotten to this point because we followed the science, and the people of Massachusetts did the hard work, and made the sacrifices. We are now prepared and protected, and we can move forward together.”

Based on local conditions, cities and towns retain the option to set certain requirements that are more stringent than those set by the state.