BOSTON (AP) — Visitors to the Massachusetts Statehouse will no longer have to wear a mask or show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test starting Monday.
"While some individuals may choose to continue to wear masks, this will no longer be a requirement but rather an individual's choice based on their preference and level of risk," House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka said in a joint press statement Friday.
The decision to scrap the mask and testing mandates on Monday is just the latest loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in the state.
The move comes just two weeks after the public was welcomed back to the Statehouse nearly two years after the historic building and center of government for the state was largely closed in the early days of the pandemic to all but lawmakers, Statehouse staffers and reporters.
The two Democratic lawmakers pointed to a steady decline in COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations in Massachusetts as the reason for the move.
Lawmakers had come under criticism from some for keeping the building closed to the public for so long.
During the past two years, hearings and legislative sessions have largely been conducted both in person and remotely in part to ensure public access.
"We would like to thank our General Court Officers, the Bureau of the State House, the Department of Conservation & Recreation Rangers, and the Massachusetts State Police for ensuring the safety of visitors and staff as we look forward to entering this new phase in our reopening to the public," the two Democrats said.
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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