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Saugus lifts mask mandate

This article was published 1 year(s) and 7 month(s) ago.

SAUGUS — The Board of Health decided to lift the town’s indoor-mask mandate on Monday night, which has been in place since Jan. 6.

The board voted unanimously (3-0) to change the mandate to a recommendation.

The decision to change the mandate was due to a drop in COVID-19 cases, along with some of the mitigation strategies the town put in place and a 76-percent vaccination rate among residents.

Saugus Director of Public Health John Fralick noted that the town hasn’t seen such low numbers since August 2021. Fralick added that seeing similarities in numbers from the summer in the winter is very promising.

“My recommendation at this time would be to roll back the mandates from a full-blown mandate across the board and revert that back to an advisory status,” he said. “I do not see a basis for continuing the initial mandate until March 7.”

Board of Health Chair Bill Heffernan agreed with Fralick’s recommendation.

“I’ve spent the last month doing my own research,” Heffernan said. “We are seeing other towns on the North Shore eliminate the mask mandate. I think at this time it’s the right thing to do. I also would like to state that I think enforcing the mask mandate a month ago was also the right thing to do. 

“You are seeing all these prominent institutions, such as John Hopkins, basically stating that the lockdown did nothing, and I’m not saying masks do nothing. I fully appreciate what the masks can do in a pandemic situation, but I’m at the point now where I’m not ready to move forward and enforce this mask mandate at all. I think that we are seeing enough people being vaccinated, enough people being boosted,” he said.

Heffernan said he will not support any future mask mandates. He also stated that while others might feel more comfortable wearing a mask indoors, he himself will not.

Multiple town officials were present on the call including Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano, Vice Chair Debra Panetta and member Corinne Riley, as well as School Committee member Dennis Gould.

“I thank you for your work during this pandemic,” said Riley after the vote, which occurred on Zoom. “I appreciate your decision and personally am very glad this will be rolled back.”

After the vote, Saugus resident Ken Strum asked if this means seniors will be able to play board games together at the Saugus Senior Center. Fralick stated that doing so will be fine and that he will be in touch with the director of the facility, Joanne Olsen.

Strum added that he believes masks work.

“I get bronchitis twice a year, every year, and I haven’t as much seen a cold,” he said. Strum added that he supports mask mandates if deemed necessary.

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