In a pre-summer jolt, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that he would fast-track the state reopening process by rescinding mask orders, lifting all Covid-19 restrictions before Memorial Day and ending the 15-month state of emergency June 15.

The governor had previously announced a phased end to the reopening process that would take place over the next four months, with most of the state’s stringent Covid restrictions on restaurants, retail, bars and nightlife set to expire on August 1.

But with vaccination rates surging and case numbers dwindling — and the recent loosening in the Center for Disease Control’s mask guidance — Governor Baker did a surprise about-face Monday, announcing in a press release and accompanying briefing that all industries would be permitted to open at full capacity Saturday, May 29.

State gathering limits and face covering orders will also be rescinded on the same day, the governor said, replaced by the CDCs guidance for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Unvaccinated residents are still urged to wear face coverings in indoor settings, while vaccinated residents will be advised that they can return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

Face coverings will still be required on public transportation, including ferries, according to the press release.

In the press briefing and release, Governor Baker said the state was on track to reach its goal of vaccinating approximately four million residents by the first week of June, with 75 per cent of residents already having received a first shot. And with new positive Covid-19 cases dropping by 89 per cent since the beginning of January, he said the time was now to officially reopen the state.

Case rates had declined for the prior five weeks before leveling out on Monday. — Courtesy Island boards of health

“Massachusetts is effectively battling back in its campaign against the virus,” Governor Baker said. “We’re safer, smarter, and better equipped in this fight than ever.”

Starting May 18, youth sports will also no longer require masks and all restrictions will be lifted on youth sports May 29. Guidance for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will also be updated to no longer require masks for outdoor school activities.

The reopening announcement comes as case numbers have trended downward on the Island since spiking in late March. But Edgartown remains one of five towns across the commonwealth still in the red for cases, with a 14-day incidence rate of 57.7, nearly double the rate that qualifies a community as high risk.

In a weekly case update that came out Monday, health agents reported that Island cases actually remained steady, even as numbers declined across the state. The Island reported 33 new positive coronavirus tests between May 9 and May 15, one more than the 32 reported the prior week. Cases had shown dramatic declines the prior five weeks. 

According to health agents, Dukes and Nantucket counties have the highest positivity rates in the state. 

Twenty of the 33 new cases this week were among Islanders under the age of 30, with 10 between 20 and 29 years of age, and 10 under the age of 20. Of the 33 positive cases, 22 were symptomatic, seven were asymptomatic and four were unknown. 

The Island vaccination process continues to roll ahead, with the hospital reporting more than 12,576 people receiving a first shot and a mobile vaccine bus on-Island until Wednesday.