Also announced: back to remote-only Zoom meetings for City Council, boards and commissions
Citing the rapid spread in COVID-19 cases in Malden due to the Omicron variant, Mayor Gary Christenson on Tuesday announced the city is instituting a mandatory mask-wearing policy in all public indoor settings. The mandatory mask policy went into effect as of today, Friday, January 7. The policy mandates that all persons over the age of two must cover their nose and mouth with a mask or face-covering. Mayor Christenson issued the mask mandate and municipal meeting format jointly, with Malden Board of Health Director Christopher Webb, on Wednesday via an Executive Order.
Malden will join only a few nearby communities in the region with a similar mandatory mask policy for all indoor spaces, including Chelsea, Lynn and Somerville. Nearly 100 communities have mandatory mask mandates for just municipal buildings.
Mandatory mask-wearing was already in effect since Sept. 1, 2021, in the Malden Public School (which are also municipal buildings) by vote of the Malden School Committee, since schools reopened to full, in-person learning for all students for the 2021-2022 school year.
Also going into effect will be a return to the remote-only public meeting policy via the Zoom platform, also due to the COVID-19 spike. For much of this year, nearly every City of Malden meeting has returned to in-person parameters, using established federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local Malden Board of Health protocols. Mask-wearing had already been mandated by the City of Malden for those and other meetings inside municipal buildings. But as of Monday, all Malden City Council, School Committee and other board and commission meetings will go back to the remote-only Zoom format. That format was in place for city meetings from the time the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in spring of 2020 through the entirety of 2020 and into 2021.
Following is the exact wording of the Executive Order governing mandatory mask-wearing and municipal meetings.
- PUBLIC MEETINGS: All community/public meetings including City Council and Boards and Commissions meetings will be conducted remotely through ZOOM, starting Monday, January 10, 2022 and until further notice. This is in line with Governor Baker’s legislation which provides for remote meetings of public bodies up until April 20, 2022.
- MASKS: a) Any persons over the age of two (2) or older shall be required to cover their nose or mouth with a mask or face covering (i.e. disposable mask, cloth mask, face shield, scarf) when in or at any indoor public location, except where a person is unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition. This requirement applies to all workers or customers of a business or other organization open to the public, including but not limited to all retail establishments, fitness centers, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, event venues, private/social clubs and municipal buildings. This section does not apply to informal gatherings at private residences.
b.) All businesses and other establishments open to the public must post a notice at entry requiring those entering to wear a face-covering or mask. Restaurant and indoor bar customers may remove masks when they are actively eating or drinking.
c.) All reasonable efforts will be made to secure voluntary compliance with the Order, however violations of the order may result in a fine of up to $200 per violation, in a manner provided for non-criminal disposition of violations of city ordinances or regulation pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 40, Section 21 D.