City of Cambridge Issues Emergency Order Requiring Use of Face Masks in Indoor Public Places, Effective September 3, 2021 August 27, 2021

The City of Cambridge issued an emergency order requiring that face masks or coverings be worn in indoor public places. The order takes effect at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, September 3, 2021. It applies to everyone over the age of two years old, with exceptions in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.

“I am grateful to everyone in Cambridge who has taken our public health guidance seriously, gotten vaccinated, and done their part to help protect themselves and our community,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “With the rapid rise of the Delta variant, we are issuing this mask order for indoor public places to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect those who live, work, learn, or visit our city. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will take a data and science-informed approach to our pandemic response.”

For the purposes of this order, Indoor Public Places include, but are not limited to:

  • Retail establishments
  • Restaurants & bars – except while actively eating or drinking
  • Performance venues
  • Social clubs
  • Houses of worship
  • Event spaces
  • Municipal buildings
  • Personal care establishments
  • Fitness establishments

Despite a significant reduction in deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Massachusetts and a high proportion of vaccinated residents in the Commonwealth relative to other states, COVID-19 cases are on an upward trajectory in Cambridge, neighboring communities, and the Commonwealth.

The rise of new infections in Cambridge and the state corresponds with the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant, now the dominant variant in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control’s current projected estimate is that the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) accounts for 86% of new infections in New England and the nation.

“With schools reopening and COVID-19 cases increasing due to the highly infectious Delta variant, instituting this mask mandate for indoor public places is a critical measure to help minimize the spread of the virus,” said Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone in areas of high or substantial COVID-19 transmission wear face coverings when in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status. Currently, the level of community transmission is “substantial” in Cambridge and “high” in Middlesex County.

“While the COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant and do an excellent job of preventing serious illness and death, they do not always prevent a fully vaccinated person from getting infected and spreading the virus to others,” said Susan Breen, MS, RN, the City’s interim Chief Public Health Officer. “Masks offer another important layer of protection. Wearing a mask indoors when outside the home—regardless of vaccination status—will help keep you and the community healthy.”

The full text of the emergency order can be found here.

More information and frequently asked questions about face coverings are available at

All residents are encouraged to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines continue to be offered at many CVS and other pharmacy locations, as well as at Star Market in-store pharmacies. Locations may be found at or Residents are reminded that the City of Cambridge currently provides free COVID-19 testing three days a week and will be expanding to four days per week beginning September 8, 2021. Information about the City’s testing program is available at

There are also several other ways to get tested. To find other testing options, visit This site lets individuals search for testing by zip code and also provides information about home COVID-19 tests that can be ordered online.

For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit to sign up for daily City of Cambridge email updates.