May 28—LAWRENCE — After having been in the high-risk category for COVID-19 transmission throughout nearly all of the pandemic, the city is finally out of the red zone, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Public Health.
For the first week since the DPH has color coded cities to indicate local coronavirus levels, Lawrence has dropped to the yellow zone.
To be considered within the red zone for COVID-19 transmission, a city the size of Lawrence must have both a daily average of 10 or more positive cases per 100,000 residents and have a positivity rate of 4% or higher.
The next step down — the yellow zone — requires either a daily average of 10 or more positive cases per 100,000 residents or a positivity rate of 4% or higher.
This Memorial Day holiday weekend, Mayor Kendrys Vasquez, like other mayors around the state, is preparing for more reopening restrictions to be lifted.
In an announcement made May 17, Gov. Charlie Baker said the state will rescind the mask mandate and allow bars and nightclubs to return to full capacity on May 29. In doing so, he allowed municipalities like Lawrence to create their own guidance around such rules. He said the existing state of emergency would end June 15.
In Lawrence, the only COVID-19 related restriction remaining for bars, nightclubs, and restaurants is the requirement to keep a guest log with customer names and phone numbers for contact tracing purposes.
"We continue to encourage social distancing and mask wearing, especially when you cannot social distance," Vasquez said Friday after news broke that Lawrence was out of the red zone.
Now, only Tisbury, a small town on Martha's Vineyard, remains in the red in Massachusetts.
"My big ask is for people to continue to vaccinate," Vasquez said. "The city has continually done everything we can to make sure we get people vaccinated ... but we're going to continue to have vaccination efforts out in full force throughout the city."
The city's reopening order governing bars and nightclubs is a flexible one, Vasquez said.
According to the mayor, it is written in such a way such that if the city goes back into the high-risk zone, safeguards such as mask wearing, plexiglass around serving stations and social distancing will be immediately implemented until Dec. 31, or until the city again escapes the red zone.
"It's flexible enough to show the community that we're moving in the right direction, but that we're still in a global pandemic and vaccination is the only way out of it," the mayor said of the executive orders written with assistance from the Inspectional Services, Code Enforcement and the Police Department.