NEW BEDFORD — With the recent drop in COVID-19 transmission in the city, Mayor Jon Mitchell has decided to lift the policy requiring the use of masks in the public areas of municipal buildings, such as City Hall and public libraries.

The city’s mask policy will end at 4 p.m. Friday, according to a statement from the mayor, who said he is grateful to everyone who has observed the requirement since it was established by executive order in August 2021.

The mayor’s office cited data showing that COVID-19 cases in New Bedford have fallen dramatically over the past five weeks in New Bedford.

The city hit its peak of daily cases on Jan. 7, when 562 cases were reported over the previous 24-hour period, according to the mayor. On Tuesday, Feb. 15, just 17 cases were reported in the previous 24 hours, a 97% drop from the peak.

The New Bedford Health Department is continuing with other pandemic response efforts, including the promotion of COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, which have proven effective at preventing severe illnesses. The Health Department also is continuing to monitor transmission risk and the emergence of new variants that could require additional safeguards.

New Bedford Public Schools also are operating under a mask requirement inside school buildings, but Gov. Charlie Baker announced earlier this month that the state would no longer require masks inside school buildings after Feb. 28.

Motta said Superintendent Thomas Anderson is expected to make a statement on the school policy in the near future. In an email to The Light, Motta noted that Anderson has said there are multiple factors to consider, including the number of positive tests, vaccination rates and students well being.

“We already have several meetings each week regarding COVID as we have navigated the pandemic for the last almost two years — and that will not shift as we address this change in the state mandate,” Anderson said.

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