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Healey to lift state Covid-19 emergency in May; most state workers will no longer have to get shots

Gov. Healey announced today that she'll be lifting the official Massachusetts Covid-19 public-health emergency on May 11.

Also gone that day: The requirement that all workers in the state's executive branch have to get vaccinated; the requirement would remain for some workers in health-care settings.

Thanks to the hard work of our health care providers and communities, we’ve made important progress in the fight against COVID-19. We know that we have the tools to manage this virus – vaccines, masking, testing, getting treatments and staying home when sick – and we’ve reached the point where we can update our guidance to reflect where we are now. I’d also like to acknowledge the leadership of Governor Baker and his administration, who saved countless lives by putting these important measures in place in a time of immense crisis.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh added:

Three years on from the start of the pandemic, we are now in a very different place. While we will continue living with COVID-19, we can now incorporate the tools to manage this virus into our standing response to respiratory illness within our communities and healthcare system.



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Lifting the state emergency will also lift a number of other emergency measures that residents now use as standard practice. Currently hybrid public meetings are only possible because of the emergency measure and the state has not put this into law. Public participation is up in most public meetings as a result of online participation. Without permanent legislation we could be going back to in person meetings where few attend. While I agree it is time to lift the state emergency, there may be a number of unintended consequences if not looked at closely.


Now that most things are in person, it's quite revealing which places have slid back in terms of offering remote options for disabled/parents without child care/people without transportation. The ones that actually have a mindset of serving people using best practices have discovered that remote options make things more flexible on their end as well. The ones that want you to suck up your bootstraps or whatever are already back to "oh we aren't set up for zoom" and "we have no way to receive electronic documents." So, set up a gmail address and plunk a laptop on the meeting room table and welcome yourself to 2023.


The folks at home can watch on zoom, but there's nothing like a live hearing with the room packed full of the hoi polloi. The zoom world may have enabled more people to listen observe and engage, but in person meetings are essential for real participation and transparency.

Attending meetings remotely ends March 31, 2023. There is pending legislation to extend the deadline -- make permanent? -- that should be approved by the legislature before everything expires. Remote meetings is one of many COVID flexibilities that cease at the end of the month.

I think most prefer that boards, commissions and agencies be allowed to continue having fully remote meetings. It allows for greater participation by the public


It gets used as a way of shutting down participation. Remote public meetings don't allow people to see who else is in the room, backchannel approval or disapproval (clapping, cheering, laughing, muttering, etc.), or even see the size of the crowd.

Hybrid seems good, though.

Not having a vaccine is how a rare new virus turned into a global pandemic. It could easily flare right back up again if people aren't vaccinated.


While that may be true, prolonging the emergency order when it's no longer justified by the facts on the ground just because we want to use it to force some extra people to get vaccinated without having to pass a law about it is not a sustainable policy. Time waits for no-one; we must move into the future as who we are, not who we wish we were. That means recognizing that the acute emergency is over, understanding the ongoing risks, and being prepared to act quickly if things get worse again.


Are you an expert in public employment law? Are the only ways to require vaccination a public emergency or passing a law?

Removing a vaccine mandate at this point does not delete the acquired immunity from the past 3 years, either through natural exposure or immunization.

If you want laws passed or regulations changed in a more permanent manner, you've had 3 years to advocate for that.

If you have worked for the state all along, you are vaccinated.

This is the only good use of States Rights I've heard about in my lifetime. I wasn't around for the Civil War (1861-1865) but every other time I've heard States Rights used (The Declaration of Constitutional Principals aka The Southern Manifesto, 1956 against integration in schools and the current abortion bans by state, 2022 - ongoing) Have been terrible things denying people basic rights.

The President of the United States declared the COVID-19 pandemic is over in 2022. This does not mean that COVID-19 ceased to exist it means it is no longer considered a world wide issue. Keeping Covid-19 restrictions in place in Massachusetts denies no one anything except the right to infect other people through willful negligence. All and all a good use of States Rights in my book.