Masks & Face Coverings

Questions About Wearing Your Mask Indoors?

  • If your mask makes you feel more comfortable, wear it!
  • If you are fully vaccinated, masks are optional.
  • If you are NOT fully vaccinated, please continue to mask up to protect yourself and others*

Still need a vaccine? Visit

*Remember, you are fully vaccinated two weeks after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine OR two weeks after your SECOND dose of Moderna or Pfizer.

Face Masks in Cambridge

Effective May 29, the City of Cambridge will follow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s new face-covering advisory consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance, and will not require the use of face masks in Cambridge. However, residents are encouraged to follow the Massachusetts and CDC recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and businesses are reminded that they may continue to require the use of face masks inside their establishments if they wish.

The Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health and the CDC advises all unvaccinated residents to continue to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when they can’t socially distance.

Whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, all staff and visitors must wear a mask inside city buildings. Hand sanitizer is located throughout city buildings and free masks are available at the check-in desk.

Mask Tips & Best Practices

Choosing the Best Mask for You

The best masks protect both you and others from getting sick. Look for masks that fit snugly and block at least 90% of small viral particles from being breathed in. Masks should also be comfortable, especially if they are being worn throughout the day.


Wear a mask with excellent filtration. Aim for 90-95%.

  • Several types of disposable masks available to the public provide excellent personal protection. These “high filtration” masks include KF94 masks (made in Korea), KN95 masks (made in China) and flat medical-style masks that are quality-certified.
  • KN95 and KF94 fit more snugly, depending on face-shape, than flat medical-style masks.
  • If shopping for masks, some key words to look for are KF94, KN95, or ASTM-rated.
  • About Cloth Masks: Cloth masks are best suited to outdoor use when it's easy to social distance. Most cloth masks do a good job of protecting others if you are sick.

More information on pros and cons of different types of masks is available on the CDC website.


Choose masks that fit snugly and cover nose, mouth, and chin.

  • All edges should touch your skin so that unfiltered air does not escape or enter through the gaps.
  • Try different shaped masks to fit your face.
  • Try "ear savers" or mask straps to change the way a mask fits on your face.
  • A bendable nose clip is important for keeping masks in place and closing gaps.
  • If you cannot get a good fit with a flat medical-style mask, consider placing a cloth mask over it. This is known as “double masking.”

See the CDC website for more tips on improving mask fit and double-masking.

Mask Reuse and Care

  • High quality disposable masks can be reused many times, as long as they are not visibly damaged or soiled. In independent tests, these masks remained effective after 40 hours or more of use.
  • Masks that have been filtering germs all day may have germs on their outside surface. When removing a mask, hold it by the ear loops and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Store used disposable masks in the open air or a paper bag to dry until you need them.
  • Do not clean your disposable masks with soap or alcohol—or put them in the washing machine—because this will destroy their ability to block viral particles. Medical-style flat masks and KF94/KN95 masks still work when wet with perspiration. They can be dried with a tissue.
  • Bacteria and fungi can grow on cloth masks, so they need to be washed daily with your laundry or in hot soapy water in the sink. 


  • (5/21/21) City of Cambridge to Lift Remaining COVID-19 Restrictions Along with the Commonwealth on Saturday, May 29, 2021; Eviction Moratorium to End on June 15, 2021
  • (4/29/21) City of Cambridge to Advance to Phase IV, Step 1 on May 6, 2021, and Relax Outdoor Mask Requirements, Effective April 30, 2021
  • (2/18/21) Updated guidance on face masks from the Cambridge Public Health Department and CDC is now available 
  • (10/2/20) On October 2, 2020, the City issued the Fourth Amended Temporary Emergency Order Requiring the Wearing of Masks or Cloth Face Coverings in All Public Places, Businesses, and Common Areas of Residential Buildings (the “October 2, 2020 Amended Mask Order”), which went into effect immediately. The purpose of this amendment was to conform with state orders and to clarify an issue concerning common areas of residential buildings.
  • (9/25/20) The City of Cambridge today issued amendments to its emergency order requiring that face coverings be worn in all public places, businesses, and common areas of residential buildings with two or more dwelling units. The order goes into effect at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, October 2, 2020.
  • (8/7/20) Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Initiatives to Stop Spread of COVID-19
  • (6/27/20) The City has amended the Emergency Order requiring face coverings. During the summer months (i.e., from June 23,2020 until midnight on September 22, 2020) masks or cloth face coverings may be temporarily removed when outdoors when a physical distance of at least six (6) feet from others can be maintained at all times. Additionally, clarifying language has been added to allow for the removal of masks for dining at food establishments in the city, including outdoor dining.
  • (5/11/20) The City of Cambridge are distributing free face masks at the Cambridge Police Department, which is located at 125 6th Street, 7 days a week between the hours of 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. or until daily supplies are depleted. Officers in every marked Cambridge Police cruiser will have a supply of masks to distribute if they encounter residents without them during calls for service. Additionally, Homeless Outreach Officers will have an available supply and will proactively seek out and provide masks to residents who may not have access to a mask. If residents or organizations are looking to buy or make their own masks and face coverings, please see below for more information.
  • (5/1/20) The Baker-Polito Administration has ordered all residents over the age of two to use a face covering or mask in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not possible. Learn more.
Page was posted on 3/18/2020 6:52 PM
Page was last modified on 5/27/2021 12:49 PM
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