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Gov. Baker Still Has 'No Interest' In Mask Mandate As DPH Issues Widespread Recommendation

BOSTON (CBS) -- Gov. Baker reiterated Tuesday that he has not changed his mind about a statewide mask mandate. On. Dec. 13, Baker said there were no plans to reinstate the mask mandate, which had been in place for over a year, as well.

On Tuesday, Baker activated up to 500 Massachusetts National Guard members to support the state's hospitals. He said residents should expect to see cases rise through the coming months.

The Department of Public Health also issued a new recommendation that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor, public spaces.

"We are saying that we think more people should be masking. The people of Massachusetts know at this point that masking is one of the tools they can pursue if they choose to do so to protect themselves," Baker said.

"I have no interest in putting a mandate on this issue given all the tools that are available on a statewide basis," he continued. "We issued a mask mandate last fall because we had no other options."

Between vaccines, rapid tests, testing sites, and more knowledge about COVID-19, Baker said the mandate is not necessary.

Communities are able to issue their own mandates, and many have. Most recently, the Board of Health in Lynn reinstated the mask requirement on Monday.

"Obviously, our Administration will continue to support cities and towns and businesses that adopt additional protocols," Baker said.

"If people wish to add an extra layer of protection by wearing a mask in indoor settings, we would urge them to do so, especially when we have cases rising across the Commonwealth."

Rep. Ayanna Pressley urged Baker to reinstate the mandate.

"The Commonwealth has reached the grim milestone of more than one million cases and nearly 20,000 deaths. Communities in my district— the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District – continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and the economic crisis that it has wrought," Rep. Pressley wrote in her letter. "As we continue to experience a winter surge and are now faced with the new threat of the even more contagious Omicron variant, it is incumbent upon policymakers, at all levels of government, to act aggressively to center the public health and keep our collective constituents safe and healthy."

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