SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has issued a mask mandate at all municipal buildings effective immediately.

Sarno and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Additionally, an emergency order for a city wide indoor mask mandate for businesses has been issued beginning Monday, January 3rd. That order is in place for 60 days.

In the last 5 weeks, Springfield’s weekly case numbers have been ticking up quickly. On November 21st health officials reported 377 positive COVID-19 cases. Then as of December 19th, that number has jumped to 1,132. But now startling new data this week.

“Right now we are at 3,369 and I believe when we add this week’s numbers will probably surpass our highest number which was last December,” said Springfield Health Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.

The numbers are expected to increase after the Christmas holidays. Sarno says thousands of COVID-19 tests are being done every week and he urged city residents who are unvaccinated to get the vaccine.

“We are now in a crisis mode but one that we can control,” said Mayor Sarno at Tuesday’s conference.

Caulton-Harris added, “Over this past year in the city of Springfield, 134 additional people have lost their lives to COVID-19. This is a very sombering statistic.”

As to why Mayor Sarno is waiting until January 3rd for the indoor mask mandate, he said, “We are allowing businesses to properly prepare.” The Springfield city-wide mask mandate will be reassessed on March 1st. One business owner 22News spoke with said that they are used to mask wearing and they will do anything to keep their patron safe.

“I think it won’t be as hard as it originally was to implement it. These are the rules that we have to follow along with. It’s been a tough go between employee issues and COVID issues, and supply chain issues, uhm but will do our best to get through it,” said Keith Makarowski, owner of Theodores’ Blues, Booze & BBQ.

City officials add that this mask mandate can be lifted before the 60 day if cases decrease substantially. The mayor and commissioner believe we have not reached the worst of it, especially with New Year’s celebrations taking place, which city officials say should be kept small.