BOSTON (State House News Service) — After more than 700 days of being shuttered to the public and more than 250 days since the state's COVID-19 state of emergency ended, the Massachusetts State House will reopen next Tuesday with masking and proof of vaccination requirements, legislative leaders announced Monday.
"We are pleased to announce that the State House will be opened to the public, Monday through Friday, as of Tuesday, February 22, 2022. Masks will be required, as well as proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test from no more than one day before entry," Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano said in a joint statement. "With public health data constantly evolving, we will review these requirements on a weekly basis. We look forward to seeing the public in the State House."
The Senate had previously announced a plan to reopen its sessions to the public on Feb. 22.
The State House has been closed since March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe and brought most elements of daily life to a grinding halt in Massachusetts. Lawmakers, some staffers and members of the media who work in the State House have been allowed in the historic building while it has been closed, but it has been nearly two years since advocacy groups, tourists and other visitors filled its marble halls.
For months, Massachusetts has been the only state in the country to still have its state house entirely closed off to the public.
Spilka and Mariano did not provide details about how the vaccination check system would work, who would be tasked with enforcing masking requirements and whether any other changes are in store for those returning to the State House. They are scheduled to meet with Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday afternoon and could offer more thoughts during a press conference planned for after the meeting.
Baker said last week that he thinks the State House should be open but said the decision was up to Spilka and Mariano. "It's their building, it's their call," the governor said.
Written by Colin A. Young/SHNS.