Amherst lifts mask mandate

  • Downtown Amherst GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/17/2021 7:15:44 PM

AMHERST — Masks and face coverings are no longer mandatory for people on sidewalks, in parks and other outdoor areas of downtown Amherst.

As of noon Monday, Health Director Emma Dragon, as an agent of the Board of Health, rescinded the order that first went into effect last August.

Dragon said the decision was based on updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and recent announcements by the state’s Department of Public Health and Gov. Charlie Baker. Amherst joins some other cities and towns in Hampshire County that in recent days eased mask-wearing restrictions, including Northampton and Easthampton. 

Baker earlier in May revised the face-covering order so that masks don’t need to be worn outdoors, except in situations where individuals can’t keep 6 feet apart. But non-vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing face masks and to continue distancing in most settings.

The CDC’s face-covering guidance states that fully vaccinated individuals, two weeks out from the complete vaccine regiment, do not need to wear masks under most circumstances, inside or outside.

Baker issued a new face-covering advisory that will go into effect May 29. Face coverings will still be required for all individuals on public and private transportation and at healthcare facilities and providers, congregate care settings, and health and rehabilitative day services.

Face coverings will also remain required indoors for staff and students of K-12 schools and early education providers.

The rescinding of Amherst’s outdoor mask order comes after the Board of Health recently kept it in place until June, partly in response to the likely influx of visitors last week associated with the University of Massachusetts commencement.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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