SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- As of Monday, November 1, masks will no longer be required in the city of Springfield. It's a major move that was announced on Wednesday by Mayor Domenic Sarno and Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.
City leaders cited a decline in positive COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccination rates as the main reasons for dropping the mandate.
Back in September, Sarno implemented an indoor mask mandate for the city of Springfield after seeing a spike in positive COVID-19 cases.
"They were numbering a buck-50, 150 or so a day, which rivaled the early versions of this COVID-19 pandemic,” Sarno explained.
The deadline to revisit the mandate was November 1 and on today, Sarno and Caulton-Harris announced the mandate would be lifted.
"I'm going to burn my mask, off and done with it, hopefully for good,” said Denise Zollo of Springfield.
Ken Phelps, who was visiting Springfield, added, “I like it. I think that's a good thing. I'll wear a mask when I have to, but I'd rather not.”
Sarno said positive cases have significantly declined over the past five weeks, which is why they felt it's safe to drop the mandate.
"Monday, I believe we had 11 reported infections,” Sarno added.
Also, he said the vaccination rate for the city has gone up about 12 percent since the mandate was put in place.
While Springfield residents and visitors will no longer need to mask up starting next week, it is still strongly recommended. Sarno said they wanted to keep the mandate through the Halloween weekend to protect young children who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
There is an increase in positive cases among those young people, according to Caulton-Harris.
"Last week, amongst those 554 cases, 71 were 0-10 and they cannot be vaccinated,” Caulton-Harris said.
That's why she strongly encourages Springfield residents to get their vaccine and, following the latest guidance from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, students in Springfield Public Schools will continue to wear masks for their safety through at least January 15.
Despite the mask mandate being lifted, Caulton-Harris still asks that residents continue to use their better judgement when deciding to wear masks in public places.
“It is important to know your environment, know where you are. If you are in a large gathering with individuals that you do not know, it is important that you consider keeping on a face covering to keep yourself healthy,” Caulton-Harris added.
Sarno and Caulton-Harris still stressed that they reserve the right to reimplement a mandate if there is a spike of COVID-19 cases in the community.