Provincetown officials have approved an indoor mask mandate in an effort to fight an outbreak of more than 500 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the vacation haven at the tip of Cape Cod.
The town's Select Board and Board of Health unanimously voted in favor of the mandate during an emergency joint meeting on Sunday.
“We are entering a new stage of COVID,” Town Manager Alex Morse said. “COVID, while depressing for many of us, is not going away anytime soon.”
The boards had approved an indoor mask advisory last week, but it had not adequately succeeded in slowing the spread, he said.
The new cases stem from a busy Fourth of July weekend, officials have said.
The cluster of cases in the town has grown to more than 550, including some caused by the more infectious delta variant, health officials said. Of the new cases, about 70% were fully vaccinated and most had no or only mild symptoms. Only three people have required hospitalization.
“What we’re seeing here is just a very good example of how well the vaccine is working,” said Sean O’Brien, director of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment. “It’s really important to remember: People need to still be vaccinated.”
More than 100 of the cases were in people visiting from out of state, according to health officials, and about 150 are in-town residents.
Provincetown continues to offer free COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at the Veterans Memorial Community Center parking lot.
The indoor mask mandate approved Sunday will become an advisory again when positivity rates drop lower than 3% over five days. The advisory can be lifted when the positivity rate drops lower than 2%.
Select Board Member Leslie Sandberg sought to require masks on Commercial Street, the heart of the community's business district often packed with pedestrians, but her motion was not supported.