The Board of Health approved a mask advisory for Revere businesses and indoor spaces at last week’s meeting.
While the move does not mandate the wearing of masks indoors, Public Health Director Lauren Buck said she hopes it encourages local businesses to take a closer look at COVID-19 protocols. “It’s not a mandate, but it is a strong encouragement,” said Buck. “We hope businesses use the guidance we are giving them to reconsider their protocols in their businesses, but it is an advisory, not a mandate.”
Buck said the advisory was put forward due to the spike in cases due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and she pointed to mandates and protocols that are in place in neighboring communities. “Revere is not immune to the trends we are seeing around the country and the world because of Omicron,” said Buck. “The good news is that we have already reached the peak, we think, of Omicron and it’s on a downward trend. Most experts think that just as quickly as it went up it will quickly go down.”
In general, however, Buck said the city’s COVID-19 daily case count is still very high. “They are much higher than we were experiencing back in March 2020…” she said.
Buck said the best defense against the Omicron variant is to get vaccinated and a booster shot. While the vaccination rate in Revere is high, she said the percentage of residents who have gotten their booster shot is currently around 26 percent. “We need to make sure everyone eligible for a booster is getting a booster, and we have a lot of work to do there,” said Buck.
Board of Health Member Nezha Louaddi asked if other COVID-19 measures, such as a return to six-foot social distancing in businesses, might be needed in the city. “Last summer and spring, as part of the state reopening plan, a lot of the protocols around distancing and the number of patrons in an establishment kind of ended,” said Buck.
In preparing the mask advisory, Buck said she and Inspectional Services Director Michael Wells wanted to make sure they came up with a plan that is manageable for businesses in Revere. “We want to make sure we keep in mind that a lot of our small businesses have been very hard hit,” said Buck. “We think that masking is the best method of prevention in a business setting right now, and that we do not need to go back to a six-foot distancing mandate. At this time, it’s not really mandated anywhere that I know of in Massachusetts.”
Buck also said the city has to be cognizant of the fact that, at some point, everyone will have to start living with normalizing COVID-19 a little bit more. “Moving back to mandates doesn’t really feel like the right move for Revere and Revere small businesses and businesses in general at this time,” said Buck.
Wells also noted that the city doesn’t have the resources available to enforce a mandate. “It also puts the businesses in a little bit of a bind when they have an uncooperative customer, and it just causes a lot of unnecessary hate and discontent in businesses that are already struggling as it is,” said Wells.