Beginning Monday, a minute after midnight, the wearing of masks is mandated in indoor public spaces in Gloucester to help lessen the spread of the disease.

The Gloucester Board of Health approved final regulations for the mandate Thursday evening amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city.

The mandate is to take effect Jan. 10 at of 12:01 a.m.

Face coverings will be required for indoor common areas and hallways of buildings with 10 or more units, and it was emphasized at Thursday night’s meeting that the regulations would not supersede existing state or federal regulations.

The text of the final regulations was not available at of press time, but from the discussion Thursday night, the board did not require masks for children younger 10 in indoor public settings, though it was emphasized that this does not apply to the city’s public schools, which require them for students and staff. Those who have trouble breathing and those who are unable to wear a face covering due to disability would not be required to wear a mask, according to an earlier draft of the regulations.

The Board of Health does not have jurisdiction over the schools, said Health Director Max Schenk, who said he had a conversation with Superintendent Ben Lummis, about stressing this point. In schools, the mask requirement covers students down to as young as 2 years old, Schenk said.

“It is not our jurisdiction to say anything about how masking is done in the schools,” Schenk said.

Other features of the mask mandate say that fitness center or health club workers must wear masks, but patrons who are working out will not, while indoors.

Patrons eating in restaurants would not be required to wear masks. Restaurant staff, including wait staff, would be required to don face coverings; however, kitchen staff would be excluded, according to notes of an earlier Board of Health meeting.

In December, the Board of Health, by a 3-2 vote, rejected a mask mandate for indoor spaces. Then, during a contentious meeting on Dec. 29, with many participating on Zoom speaking out against any kind of mandate whatsoever, while others supported the move, the board did an about-face on face coverings.

The board voted 3-2 on Dec. 29 to approve a draft order for a mask mandate. However, since many amendments were made, details, such as a start and end date, had yet to be worked out.

With public comment period closed during the hearing late last month, there were no comments from the public at Thursday night’s meeting.

As on Dec. 29, Chairman Joe Rosa, and members Claudia Schweitzer and Dr. Eric Kaplan, voted to approve the final regulations, and Fred Cowan and Dr. Donald Ganim voted no.

“I’m consistent on this not being a mandate,” Cowan said.

Ganim said he appreciated the modifications made to the draft order even while voting against them.

The board also added a stipulation that it would discuss whether the mask mandate should remain in effect at its Feb. 3 meeting and at each monthly meeting thereafter

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714, or by email at

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714, or by email at

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