EASTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Massachusetts is joining Connecticut in rolling back COVID-19 restrictions on travel. For the first time since summer, people will not be required to quarantine after traveling out-of-state. This change goes into effect Monday as the bay state moves into Phase 4 Step 1.
The Bay State eased travel restrictions look a lot like the new advisory going into effect in Connecticut on Friday, essentially turning the 10-day quarantine after traveling into a recommendation rather than a requirement.
Local officials are still hoping people follow best practice safety protocols.
“It was a best practice when it was mandated," said Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. "It’s a best practice when it’s an advisory. It makes no difference to me."
The mayor helped craft the state’s COVID-19 reopening guidelines. She told Western Mass News the new announcement lifting post-travel quarantine requirements is a welcome step but shouldn't be viewed as a free for.
"The word advisory is still in there, and it’s based on science and research," she noted.
In Massachusetts, the updated travel advisory is effective March 22, and it recommends but does not require a 10-day quarantine for anyone traveling outside Massachusetts for 24 hours or more.
The advisory does not apply to fully vaccinated people, travelers presenting a negative COVID-19 test, and critical infrastructure employees.
In moving into Phase 4 Step 1, sports and entertainment arenas will be allowed 12-percent capacity, and outdoor venues will also be allowed to 150 people. Indoor gatherings at venues can have 100 people, and weddings can have dance floors. Private outdoor and indoor gatherings are still limited to 25 and 10 people, respectively.
"We are having some issues here in Easthampton and in the county with those outside social gatherings that aren’t at a location, an event location," LaChapelle said.
These changes come as some areas of the state lack access to the vaccine in their backyard. Those in the Hilltowns report a struggle to find a vaccine appointment within 25 miles of where they live. Many senior centers are also still denied doses of the vaccine from the state.
"In addition to the dozens of other clinics our size across the state, we’re just waiting for the state to make the next move," said Andrew Fraser, clinic team leader for Longmeadow Senior Center.
Western Mass News spoke with one public health official who recommended traveling with your vaccine card.