The great reopening of Massachusetts following the COVID pandemic is looming. Governor Charlie Baker has determined that life should get back to some sense of normalcy on Saturday.

It will seem odd at first to boldly cavort into a store or restaurant without wearing a mask, perhaps as odd as it felt to don one in the first place more than a year ago.

I am pretty sure that many of the dreaded masks will help to fuel Memorial Day Weekend campfires.

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While the great reopening means nightclubs and dance floors are back in business, and health clubs and concert halls can return to normal, there will continue to be restrictions in some areas. Masks will still be required in hospitals, nursing homes, on public transportation, and in schools. The National Hockey League will still leave empty seats as a buffer between players and fans for Saturday's Bruins playoff game.

The unmasking of society will be difficult for some who, for whatever reason, have not received a COVID vaccine. There will be confusion over who has and has not been vaccinated. Those who opt not to get the vaccine are being encouraged to continue wearing a mask. There may even be some grumbling between the two sides since we all will be operating on the honor system.

Life is getting back to normal, but it is going to take a while. Normal is going to take some getting used to for some, while others will dive right in. The best advice is to be patient and non-judgmental of others. I suspect we will see some folks still wearing masks for several years to come.

We all face choices about vaccination and whether to wear masks in public. Just don't try to force your beliefs on someone else, and we should get through this just fine.

Happy reopening, everyone, and play safe.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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