Provincetown is back after sparking mask mandate

In a town that is legendary for welcoming residents and visitors from all walks of life, Provincetown is bidding farewell to an unwelcome cluster of the Delta variant that began during the July Fourth holiday weekend. The town reinstated indoor mask mandates and put other immediate measures in place to stem the spread. The example led the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to bring back mask advisories nationwide.

It worked. Positivity peaked at 15% on July 15 and as of August 3, it's at 3.2%.
“The outbreak is contained and Provincetown is safe," Provincetown's Town Manager Alex Morse posted on Twitter last week.

Thanks to a series of immediate measures the town quickly adopted to ensure the safety of both residents and visitors, the beauty of late summer at the very tip of Cape Cod awaits. August through October may be the best time to visit Provincetown, the idyllic New England resort town known for its dramatic light, extraordinary beaches and the most inclusive community in the country. After the last couple of weeks, Provincetown is also known for its handling of the outbreak.

“I think the lesson here is how well the town did in the context of an immense amount of exposure and high rates of vaccination," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, in a BBC interview broadcast on August 3, 2021.

Indoor Mask Mandate, Certification and Vaccinations

In the wake of the outbreak, Provincetown quickly took next steps.

In response, the town reintroduced a mask mandate on July 26. Residents and visitors are now required to wear masks indoors when visiting hotels, restaurants and bars when not eating or drinking, and inside shops and indoor entertainment venues. The mask mandate will be reduced to an advisory if there is a test positivity rate below 3% for at least five days and will be lifted if the rate drops below 1% for at least five days.

Businesses can now voluntarily opt to require their employees to be 100% vaccinated and for visitors to be 100% vaccinated. Those that do so are issued a certificate that is prominently displayed on a window card. Those cards began appearing in town this week.

Many businesses are electing to check on the vaccination status of visitors for admission, including the Boat Slip, where the daily Tea Dance is held, as well as in some bars and dance clubs.

Testing and vaccination will continue at the Veterans Memorial Community Center daily from 10am-3pm through at least August 21, 2021.

“We went through a challenging time and have the benefit of learning from that experience," said Steve Katsurinis, the chair of Provincetown's Board of Health. “We used rapid detection and an unprecedented level of contact tracing to get ahead of it. Remember: places don't have Covid-19. People do. Every place in America, especially those with unvaccinated populations, will face this. We are ahead of the curve and we are implementing measures to keep people safe and heading in the right direction."

Outdoors in Ptown: Beaches, Bikes and Boats

“The outdoors has proven to be a very safe environment," Katsurinis adds. In Provincetown, the concept of “outdoors" covers a lot of ground. There are dune tours and whale watching excursions. The incredible Herring Cove Beach and Race Point Beaches. Visitors can walk among the dramatic dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore, or rent a bike and explore the Province Lands Bike Trail. The town is one of the bike-friendliest places in the country, says PeopleforBikes, who just ranked Provincetown the #1 place to bike in the United States in 2021.

Dining and Dance Alfresco

While indoor dining remains open, Provincetown has more than 65 restaurants that currently offer outdoor dining options, an astonishing number for such a small town. Bars, dance clubs and entertainment venues have shifted their focus back to outdoor spaces. Masks do not need to be worn outside.

“Late summer in Provincetown is one of the most spectacular times to visit," said Anthony Fuccillo, Director of Tourism for the Town of Provincetown. “Taking precautions like wearing a mask indoors and showing your vaccination card when requested means that we can return to summer and have a safe and healthy season, hopefully with restrictions easing further later this this fall."

For more information on the steps Provincetown is taking for public safety, please visit Provincetown-Ma.Gov.

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