Masked Stop & Shop Customers

Mask-wearing customers exit Stop & Shop. The CDC has eased its mask guidelines as vaccination numbers continue to rise and the number of new virus cases fall.

More than half of Cape Codders have been fully vaccinated, a number that will likely grow as the Centers for Disease Control have approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for a younger age group.

Children between the ages of 12 and 15 are now able to get vaccinated against the virus.

Also, new guidance from the CDC may provide an additional incentive for people to consider getting vaccinated by allowing them to go maskless.

The rising vaccination rates in conjunction with declining numbers of new cases across the state have also led the way to the next phase of reopening the state, which began Monday, May 10.

This phase allowed for the opening of theme and water parks as well as letting people sing indoors at restaurants and event venues.

More people being vaccinated has also had the result of fewer people becoming sick. As a result, Cape Cod Healthcare has eased some of its hospital visitation restrictions.

Vaccine Approval

As of Thursday, May 13, children between the ages of 12 and 15 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

The vaccine was approved for use in this age group by the Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday, which followed the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization on Monday.

Across Massachusetts, about 400,000 people are in the newly approved age group. This cohort will be able to make vaccine appointments, as well as have access to walk-in vaccine clinics.

Walgreens and CVS have announced that they will vaccinate this age group, as well.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain authorized only for adults age 18 and older.

CDC Mask Guidance

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control was released Thursday stating that people who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks.

The guidance states that fully vaccinated people can resume all of the activities they participated in prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing, regardless of whether they are indoors or outside.

While the CDC states that this is safe, it also says that people will still need to mask up in locations where it is required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations. This includes when entering businesses and workplaces where facial coverings are mandated.

Reopening Massachusetts

The next phase of reopening the state began in Massachusetts on Monday with amusement parks, theme parks, and water parks being able to open at half-capacity.

Businesses in this phase are required to have opening plans approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health prior to accepting customers.

Additionally, road races and other large, outdoor athletic events are able to take place using staggered start times and other safety measures.

Capacity has been increased at indoor and outdoor stadiums from 12 percent to 25 percent as part of the new phase, too.

People will once again be able to sing indoors at restaurants, event venues, and in both public and private settings. Strict distancing requirements are in place for these situations in order to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.

Grocery stores and pharmacies are now being asked to consider holding dedicated hours for senior customers, but this is no longer being mandated.

Hospital Visitation

Cape Cod Healthcare updated its hospital visitation policy this week, which went into effect on Tuesday, May 11.

Under the new policy, each patient will be allowed two visitors per day. Visitors must self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and wear a mask at all times. The hours for visitation are 11 AM to 7 PM, and no visitors under the age of 18 will be permitted.

The policy also allows for labor and delivery patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to have one visitor. This visitor will need to be the same person for the duration of the stay, regardless of the patient’s COVID-19 status. The hospital will provide the support person with proper personal protective equipment including a face shield, gown, and gloves.

Two visitors will be allowed into the hospital to visit end-of-life patients.

Additionally, one caregiver or family member will be permitted to accompany minor patients or patients for whom it is deemed beneficial. These situations include, but are not limited to, a child being accompanied by a parent or a person with a cognitive impairment being accompanied by a caregiver.

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