Conversations about new COVID-19 cases are starting to sound eerily familiar for the early days of the pandemic, as uncertainty about best practices to ward off the virus led to weeks of back and forth about masking and other restrictions. Upticks in coronavirus cases caused by the Delta variant cause local officials to return to early restraints.
When asked about a mandate across the state, Prime Minister Charlie Baker said he had no plans to reintroduce one. When the mandate was lifted in late May, vaccinated Massachusetts residents are only required to wear a mask in select places like public transport systems and health facilities.
We asked Boston.com readers if they agreed with Gov. Baker’s hesitation to reintroduce a mask mandate, and of the 1,752 readers who responded, 65% said they were not interested in seeing a return to masking restrictions. Twenty-five percent of readers said they would welcome a mask mandate in Massachusetts.
“There should not be a mask mandate. If people want to wear them and they feel better, let them, but do not force people who do not want to, ”said reader Nicole Precourt. “If a mask mandate comes back, there will be VERY very angry people. If others are so worried and think masks work, let them wear them. But they do not make the decisions for myself and my family. ”
Many readers who are opposed to a mask mandate said they have accepted that the COVID-19 pandemic may be a permanent part of our lives.
“People have to make their own decisions,” said Mariessa of Franklin. “The numbers are still small. We are never going to have zero cases and we have to learn to live with this as a part of life. ”
In the spring, as vaccination rates rose across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to wear masks unless they were in large crowds. On Tuesday, the agency reversed the course that recommended it even vaccinated people must be wearing masks indoors.
Citing concerns about the Delta variant, several cities in Massachusetts – inclusive Nantucket, Provincetownand Cambridge – has already recommended residents to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
Although they constituted the minority view, those in favor of a mandate mandate felt very strongly that it was the best move for their own, their loved ones, and the larger Massachusetts community.
“I think that a mask mandate in all indoor places must be reintroduced. My husband and I are fully vaccinated, but still wear masks in all indoor spaces, ”said one reader. “With the new Delta variant outbreaks and tensions in Provincetown and Nantucket and rising breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people, I think better than sorry.”
In addition to the mask mandate, we also asked readers what kind of restrictions they thought should be in place as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. More than 450 readers on both sides of the subject shared their thoughts. Going forward, you will find a selection of their answers.
No restrictions required
“None. The madness must end. If masks are reintroduced, there is literally no endgame here. We have a vaccine. It acts as the flu and prevents serious results but not mild infections. This has become endemic, so we should all learn to live with the virus and stop panicking. ”
“The state should be focused on deaths and hospitalizations and not just cases. Thanks to vaccines with a huge uptake of a most vulnerable, we need to adjust our thinking about infection rates. COVID is here to stay. Personal choice based on personal risk assessment is what needs to happen now. ”- Holly Rose, Newburyport
“I do not think the number of cases matters. It only matters whether people are hospitalized or die. For me, people need to protect themselves how they see fit as rational adults and not rely on the government to tell them what to do. Therefore, I do not support further mandates and postpone individual responsibility. ”- Amanda C, Walpole
“Nothing. No restrictions. We did everything last year to help keep hospitals open. We are doing well. We are not able to save everyone, but we have opportunities now and American citizens must be able to to live their lives as THEY choose !! ”- Andrea, Holden
“No limits. Vaccines are extremely effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death. Lockdowns and masks were not about getting things to zero, they were about reducing the burden on our healthcare system. If a new variant emerges that causes serious illness in the vaccinated or in children, we can react accordingly. ”- Jeff, Framingham
Restrictions on unvaccinated
“Businesses, schools and meeting places should require proof of vaccinations, if applicable, depending on the spread in society. A pandemic of the non-vaccinated should not adversely affect those who are unlikely to become very ill or die because they have been vaccinated. ” – Nicole, Brookline
“The problem is unvaccinated. I would rather see a vaccine mandate or a vaccine passport. Or pay people to get the vaccine. Or get a vaccine car every 15 minutes with walk-up service. No more masks unless all other options are exhausted – it is oppressive and unfair (especially to children). ”
“Significant fines for unvaccinated people who defy mask rules that only allow vaccinated people not to wear masks.” – Allison, Woburn
Limit only the unvaccinated, otherwise no one will ever bother to get vaccines or boosters ever again. Deaths do not rise – only cases. Vaccinated people should be allowed to be mask-free! ”
“This is now the extreme disease of the unvaccinated. Yes, there are breakthrough cases, but these patients are typically not hospitalized. There are plenty of options for getting the vaccine. Cities beg and bribe residents to get the vaccine. People are making choices now. Keep children under 12 wearing masks in schools. Otherwise, people give the choice. ”
Answers are easily edited for clarity.
Yes to restrictions
“The mandate for indoor mask is a minimum! There must be proof of vaccination for all major indoor events and even full stadium sporting events that many European countries require as well as indoor dining. It is not enough to see hospitalization rates alone. We still do not know the long-term consequences of mild COVID cases for vaccinated people and non-vaccinated children. We know for a long time COVID is a real and debilitating problem. Baker reacted slowly at the start of the pandemic and needed to know better than to do it again. ” – Addie, Cambridge
“I really do not like the government trying to control our lives, but in this case, public health and safety must be a priority. I know local MA residents who think the vaccinations are not really necessary and so if they are not required to do so, they will not be vaccinated. So not only should unvaccinated people aged 12 and over wear a mask indoors and outdoors when they have no social distance, but employers and companies should also be allowed to require everyone who enters their premises , must be vaccinated and require proof if requested. There must be much stronger incentives for people to be vaccinated. ”
“A curfew at 10pm if increased cases cause hospitals to be overwhelmed by COVID cases and healthcare professionals will have to contend with the number of inpatients.” – Sheila, Cambridge
“Capacity constraints should be reintroduced for hotel conference rooms, hotel ballrooms, restaurants, offices, health clubs and many more places. Limiting to 40% of full capacity (rather than 25% or 50%) would be my estimate. ” – Ariela Beck, Acton
“No matter what, you have to mask indoors in the future through the winter. Do not forget, if you are fully vaccinated, you can still get sick with COVID. I would say keep all businesses completely open, but just wear masks indoors. With COVID Delta, then Lambda variants circulating in the fall and winter, when things get colder, people will be much more indoors and without any indoor masking, the numbers will explode. So simple, indoors masking oneself until the global pandemic is over. ”
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific measure of readers’ opinion.
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