by Jordan Mayblum
BROOKLINE — The Brookline Department of Health and Human Services wishes to provide members of the community with an update on its mask guidance as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.
Masks continue to be required in all public indoor spaces in Brookline.
The mask requirement remains in effect after Brookline's public health team considered Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data around community transmission in Norfolk, Suffolk and Middlesex Counties, as well as recent increases in hospitalizations.
The CDC recommends that masks be worn indoors, even by fully vaccinated individuals, in areas of substantial or high transmission of the virus. Norfolk County was recently elevated from substantial to high levels of transmission, according to the CDC.
Based on this data, Brookline DHHS believes a holistic prevention approach -- masks, vaccination, booster shots, regular testing, improved ventilation in buildings, and quarantine of identified cases -- remains in the best interest of the community. The department will continue to closely monitor data through the holiday season and determine what impact the cold weather and holiday gatherings have on case counts and hospitalizations. Brookline's indoor mask mandate will remain in effect until public health metrics support lifting it.
All residents age 5 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated, and Brookline DHHS strongly urges all residents who can to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community at large. This is especially important as the holidays approach, because ensuring that everyone in attendance at holiday gatherings is vaccinated helps protect the most vulnerable.
Additionally, those gathering for the holidays are encouraged to get tested prior to doing so, and hosts are urged to improve ventilation in gathering spaces by opening windows to increase airflow and/or utilizing HEPA air filters in rooms where people gather.