Great Barrington protest crowds

The Great Barrington Board of Health has extended its indoor mask advisory to crowded outdoor gatherings, regardless of vaccination status. 

GREAT BARRINGTON — The town now is recommending that people wear masks while outdoors amid crowds, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, expanding an earlier advisory to mask up indoors while out in public.

The Board of Health’s expanded advisory took effect Friday and encourages mask-wearing “where social distancing cannot be maintained, and when attending with anyone outside of your household,” according to the board’s statement.

“The Board of Health recommends that the community take precautions to mitigate the risk of illness as we head into the flu, RSV, and cold season, while still in the midst of a pandemic.”

The board is offering signs for businesses, and event planners are encouraged to consult with the Health Department about any large gatherings.

The board’s decision was influenced by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that indicates the Berkshires is an area of high transmission. The town Health Department had 17 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday. As of Thursday, Berkshire County had 21 new confirmed cases, a 17 percent decline from two weeks ago.

As of Wednesday, eight people who tested positive for the virus were hospitalized, and there was one new death, according to Berkshire Health Systems.