Masks & Face Coverings

The City of Cambridge mask order requires that face masks or coverings be worn in indoor public places. It applies to everyone over the age of two years old, with exceptions in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.

Remember, not all masks provide the same protection. How well a mask fits, how well it filters the air, and how many layers it has are all important to consider when choosing which mask to wear.

To learn about "medical style" masks that offer excellent protection against Covid-19 infection, see the Cambridge Public Health Department's Choosing the Best Mask for You and the Cambridge Public Schools' Masks Keep You Healthy.

Need a vaccine or booster? Visit www.cambridgema.gov/vaccine.

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Face Masks Required in Indoor Public Places in Cambridge

Face masks or coverings are required in indoor public places.

This Order applies to everyone over the age of two years old, with exceptions in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.

For the purposes of this order, Indoor Public Places include, but are not limited to:

  • Common areas of residential buildings with at least four units such as any lobby, hallway, elevator, stairwell, laundry room, garage, fitness center/gym, etc.
  • Common areas in indoor office and laboratory buildings such as any lobby, hallway, elevator, stairwell, garage, fitness center/gym, etc.
  • Retail establishments
  • Restaurants & bars - except while actively eating or drinking
  • Performance venues
  • Social clubs
  • Houses of worship
  • Event spaces
  • Municipal buildings
  • Personal care establishments
  • Fitness establishments

This emergency order was amended on January 5, 2022 to include indoor common areas of residential buildings with four or more units and common areas of office buildings and laboratories. The full text of the order can be found here.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where do I need to wear a mask?

Masks or face coverings will be required for all staff and customers over the age of two in indoor public places beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, September 3, 2021.

Face coverings are not required for persons for whom a mask or face covering creates a health risk or is not safe because of any of the following conditions or circumstances: the face mask or covering affects the person’s ability to breathe safely; the person has a mental health or other medical diagnosis that advises against wearing a face mask or covering; the person has a disability that prevents them from wearing a face mask or covering; or the person depends on supplemental oxygen to breathe.

This Order does not apply to anyone who is exempted by Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines, or, pursuant to guidance issued by the CDC, to children under two years of age.

What is an "Indoor Public Place"?

For the purposes of this order, Indoor Public Places include, but are not limited to:

  • Common areas of residential buildings with at least four units such as any lobby, hallway, elevator, stairwell, laundry room, garage, fitness center/gym, etc.
  • Common areas in indoor office and laboratory buildings such as any lobby, hallway, elevator, stairwell, garage, fitness center/gym, etc.
  • Retail establishments
  • Restaurants & bars - except while actively eating or drinking
  • Performance venues
  • Social clubs
  • Houses of worship
  • Event spaces
  • Municipal buildings
  • Personal care establishments
  • Fitness establishments

What if my business isn't open to the public?

This Order does not apply to gatherings at private residences for which no compensation is paid, however, it does apply to common areas of residential buildings with four or more units and to common areas of office and laboratory buildings. 

 

Examples of these common areas include:

  • Lobbies

  • Hallways

  • Elevators

  • Stairways

  • Laundry Rooms

  • Garages

  • All other common areas

Does this apply to residential buildings?

This order does apply to indoor common areas of residential buildings with four or more units: 

Examples of these common areas include:

  • Lobbies

  • Hallways

  • Elevators

  • Stairways

  • Laundry Rooms

  • Garages

  • Fitness centers/gyms

  • All other common areas

Does this apply to office buildings and laboratories?

This order does apply to indoor common areas of office and laboratory buildings:

Examples of these common areas include:

  • Lobbies

  • Hallways

  • Elevators

  • Stairways

  • Garages

  • Fitness centers/gyms

  • All other common areas

Do I have to mask at a private event that is not open to the public?

If the event is held in an indoor space that is open to the public like a hotel ballroom, social club, convention center, etc., all attendees must wear masks or face coverings at all times except when actively eating or drinking.

The mask requirement does not apply to events held at private residences or outdoors.

What about live performances indoors?

Live performances are still allowed, and performers may remove their masks or face coverings while they are performing as long as they maintain at least six feet of distance from all other people.

Why is this mask order in effect?

Despite a significant reduction in deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Massachusetts and a high proportion of vaccinated residents in the Commonwealth relative to other states, COVID-19 cases are on an upward trajectory in Cambridge, neighboring communities, and the Commonwealth due to the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Although evidence shows that fully vaccinated individuals have substantial protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death, this order is being put in place for all people, regardless of vaccination status, to maximize protection against COVID-19.

If I have a question about if this applies to me or my business, who should I contact?

If you are a business with questions about this Order, please contact Matt Nelson, Assistant to the City Manager, at mnelson@cambridgema.gov.

If you are a restaurant owner or other premise licensed by the City of Cambridge with questions specific to licensing, please email license@cambridgema.gov.

If you have general questions, please email 311@cambridgema.gov.

Page was posted on 3/18/2020 6:52 PM
Page was last modified on 1/5/2022 12:23 PM
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