Frequently Asked Questions about South Shore Health's Updated Mask Policy

Both the federal and the Massachusetts COVID-19 Public Health Emergency end on Thursday, May 11th at 11:59 PM.  

As a result, South Shore Health, along with many other health care organizations, will lift the universal mask mandate and become mask optional beginning Friday, May 12th.

Why is South Shore Health lifting its mask mandate?

Throughout the pandemic, widespread use of universal masking was part of a multi-modal approach for infection control and prevention. During the past three years, we have made great progress in the fight against COVID-19.

In addition to vaccines and effective treatments for COVID-19, we have gained widespread immunity to the virus through vaccination and natural infection, and variants of the disease have become less severe.

All of these factors, as well as the expertise of our infectious disease and other clinical leaders, and public health officials help support our decision to end the mask requirement at this time.

Are there areas within the Health System where I will still have to wear a mask?

Yes, the mask requirement will remain in place for patients and staff at The Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center at 101 Columbian Street.

This is in concurrence with Dana Farber Cancer Institute polices regarding this patient population.

At all other South Shore Health buildings, facilities, and shuttle buses, the mask mandate will be lifted effective May 12th.

Can I still wear a mask when I visit South Shore Health facilities?

Yes. Patients, visitors, and colleagues can still choose to wear a mask going forward. Masks will continue to be available at South Shore Health facilities.

Can I ask my South Shore Health provider to wear a mask during my appointment?

Access to safe and high-quality care for all of our patients is our priority. Masking and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will remain an important part of our infection prevention strategy along with standard health and safety protocols. Our policies are continuously updated by our infection control experts and reflect the latest public health guidance. At this time, universal masking is no longer medically necessary to protect patients from COVID-19. There are circumstances when masking is an appropriate medical intervention. In those circumstances, caregivers and/or patients will continue to mask, in accordance with our policies. Patients may ask, but providers determine when and if masking is necessary in a particular situation based on clinical necessity. 

Should I still wear a mask if I have symptoms of a respiratory or other illness?

Yes, patients are required to wear a mask if they have a fever or flu symptoms, have COVID-19 and are within the isolation period, or have had a known exposure to COVID-19 within the past 10 days.

If possible, patients with any of these symptoms can contact their doctor’s office prior to appointment

Visitors will no longer be screened for symptoms. However, in order to ensure the safety and well-being of all, visitors are asked to delay their visit to South Shore Health if they are not feeling well.

Will the mask requirements return at South Shore Health if there is another COVID-19 surge?

We have many systems in place throughout the Health System to monitor infections and to ensure that we maintain a safe environment.

In the event of a future pandemic or significant localized outbreak, we may need to return to masking requirements. Our infectious disease and clinical experts will continue to evaluate our policies, monitor the current health conditions, and keep our patients, visitors and colleagues informed of changes.

Should circumstances warrant, we will use masks and/or other available tools to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients, visitors and colleagues.