NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP)– The City of Northampton’s Board of Health is recommending that people over the age of two wear a mask when indoors in public places in the city.

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Northampton Public Health Department, the city has seen an increase in COVID-19 community transmission and a greater demand for health services on treatment. On May 25, 2022, the Board found that the rise in cases was high and significant enough to issue the mask advisory.

Northampton Board of Health offers the following recommendations:

  1. It is highly recommended that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 infection, wear a mask at all times when indoors and in a public setting, including at groceries, building lobbies, offices, stores, and other common or shared spaces where individuals may interact such as restrooms, hallways, elevators, and meeting rooms. This is particularly important in settings that are crowded or where ventilation is poor. This advisory applies to all individuals over the age of two years who can medically tolerate wearing a mask.  
  2. All masks should cover the nose and the mouth and rest snugly above the nose, below the mouth, and on the sides of the face. Higher-quality masks, such as KN95 and KF94 masks and N95  respirators, can offer an additional layer of protection and are preferred. Wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask or knotting the ear loops to tighten disposable masks are additional techniques to improve fit and protection. 
  3. Those who have underlying conditions that increase risk for severe illness, are over 65 years old, or are unvaccinated including children under the age of five who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine should take additional precautions. These groups are at increased risk of hospitalization, severe illness, and possible long-term complications, and should always wear a mask in public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings. Avoid crowded settings and non-essential gatherings, particularly if indoors.
  4. In addition, the impact of COVID-19 transmission is higher in settings with a high number of unvaccinated people; these include childcare facilities given that children under the age of five are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even though COVID-19 is generally less dangerous for children, it can result in hospitalization, as well as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), long COVID, and possibly other long-term complications – which can occur even with only mild infection, including in children. 
  5. The mask advisory does not apply in cases where an individual is actively performing an activity that cannot be done while wearing a face mask such as actively eating or drinking; is practicing or playing a competitive sport in the Northampton schools or on a professional level; or is performing, including but not limited to playing music, delivering a speech to an audience seated at least six feet away, and acting in a theater. Individuals who are engaging in these activities are advised to apply their mask once the activity is completed.

This advisory is not a mask mandate regulated by the City, but a precautionary effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.