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FAQ - What to Expect When Visiting Nantucket During the Pandemic

These FAQs will be updated frequently as the State of Massachusetts and Town of Nantucket change their rules and guidance and as island businesses change their practices to fit the current situation.

As of March 1, 2021, the State of Massachusetts is now in PHASE 3, Step 2 of reopening.

If public health metrics continue to trend in a positive direction, the state hopes to proceed to Phase 4 on March 22, 2021.

Current Best Practices Safety Guidelines from the State of Massachusetts and from the Town of Nantucket include:

  • Island-wide face-covering rule remains in effect
  • Limits of no more than 6 people per table remains in effect
  • 90-minute time limit of patrons remaining at tables remains in effect
  • 6-feet distance between tables remains in effect
  • Fitting rooms may open in all retail establishments
  • Capacity limits have been raised in libraries, lodging, places of worship, offices, museums, fitness clubs, and several other establishments

Nantucket County has had a positivity rate of under 3% over the past 14 days, which places us in the Yellow “Lower Risk” category per State of Massachusetts Department of Public Health metrics

Current Nantucket County Pandemic Emergency Orders can be read here.

This Pandemic FAQ page was last updated on March 1, 2021.

Governor Charlie Baker’s new travel order is now in effect, which requires all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts from out of state who do not meet an exemption to complete a Travel Form and quarantine for 14 days unless they can demonstrate proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival. You may obtain a test at your own expense after your arrival in Massachusetts, but you must quarantine until you obtain a negative result.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital is able to schedule asymptomatic COVID-19 tests ahead of time, and is urging those who may need to be tested to request a testing appointment at NCH as far in advance as possible by clicking here. Non-medically necessary COVID-19 tests are available at NCH for $150 per test by appointment only.

Patients with one or more symptoms of COVID-19 should arrive without an appointment at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital drive-through evaluation site at the main entrance portico. The costs of these medically-necessary COVID-19 tests are completely covered whether you have insurance or not.

Current COVID-19 testing hours of operation at Nantucket Cottage Hospital can be found at the hospital website.

As of Friday, November 6, 2020, the MA Department of Public Health has issued a Stay-at-Home Advisory between 10 pm and 5 am.

Read the advisory here:

On October 6, 2020, the Nantucket Board of Health issued Emergency Order No. 13 – Mandatory Face Coverings to address  public health concerns. See top of this page for excerpts, and read the entire order here.  AND in November, the State of Massachusetts updated the requirement to wear face covering: now all persons in MA over the age of 5 are required to wear a mask or cloth face covering over their mouths and noses when in a public location, indoors and outdoors. Masks or face coverings are encouraged but not required for children age 2 to 5.

Yes, both the Hy-Line and the Steamship are servicing Nantucket. Their schedules are different from what they usually offer this time of year, and they may be accepting fewer passengers, so be sure to make an advance reservation.

Yes, ferry companies are requiring passengers to wear face coverings on their boats. In addition: people traveling on the shuttles to and from the ferry lines are also required to wear face-coverings. REMEMBER to bring your face covering as the ferry lines do not supply them to passengers.

Yes, Nantucket Municipal Airport (ACK) is open and commercial flights are bringing passengers here. Contact your airline for details on wearing face covering (required) and other guidance for flying to Nantucket during the pandemic.

Yes, the governor’s current order to cover your nose and mouth when in public and social distancing is not possible does apply to everyone over the age of 2.

Yes. Maintaining 6 feet of space between yourself and other people (social distancing) is the most effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Yes, car rental agencies are currently offering rentals. Book in advance online because some currently have limited inventory. Car rental agencies

Yes, Nantucket bike shops are open for rentals. Advance reservations are recommended. You’ll find a list here and there is a map of island bike paths here

Yes, NRTA buses are operating most of their routes. Due to the governor’s directives and guidance, the Surfside and Jetties Beach buses are not running. The home page of has the most current information. Face covering is required to ride the bus. NRTA employees are providing additional cleanings and regularly disinfecting the vehicles and facilities.

“All visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, who do not meet an exemption, are required to:

  • Complete the Massachusetts Travel Form prior to arrival, unless you are visiting from a lower-risk state designated by the Department of Public Health. As of November 14, these states are: HI, ME, NH, VT. This list of states is subject to change without notice.
  • Quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts. Individuals who do not quarantine are subject to a fine of $500 per day.
  • If your COVID-19 test result has not been received prior to arrival, visitors, and residents must quarantine until they receive a negative test result.

Yes, but when you visit Nantucket beaches, you must still wear a mask and practice social distancing. You may remove your mask when swimming. If you drive onto an island beach (with a beach sticker!) you must park 15- to 20-feet apart. When you visit Nantucket beaches, REMEMBER to leave only your footprints behind. Many beaches here do not have trash bins, so be prepared to bring your trash home with you to dispose of properly.

Surfcasting is currently permitted, and beach stickers for vehicles on Town beaches are being sold online

Yes, as part of Governor Baker’s Phase 1 of reopening of Massachusetts, for-hire fishing may resume on May 25, 2020. Visit the Boating Page for links to island charter boats.

The Nantucket Whaling Museum is now open to the public: face-coverings are required for entry. Visitors and Members can reserve their visit and purchase their ticket online at Walk-ins will still be possible at the Whaling Museum, but it is recommended to book in advance to ensure your desired day and time. To ensure social distancing, capacity will be limited initially to 10% of official capacity.

Inns and hotels on Nantucket are now able to accept guests. Lodging operators must follow state requirements on cleaning and disinfecting their establishments. They must also inform guests at the time a reservation is made and at check-in of the Commonwealth’s policy urging travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days when arriving in Massachusetts from out of state. This is a recommendation, not a mandate. At this time, lodging operators are not permitted to host weddings, business events, or other organized gatherings of any kind.

Many island eateries are offering takeout service—even those not know for it — and all Nantucket restaurants are now permitted to serve a limited number of guests in their indoor dining rooms, with safety measures. With the advent of cooler weather, some are still offering table service outdoors, with portable heaters. Several downtown streets and segments of sidewalks downtown have been closed or rerouted to accommodate outdoor café style seating. Per a November 2020 order of the Governor, all restaurants must close by 9:30 pm

Yes, retail shops are open with limited occupancy. Customers must wear face-covering, and shop employees will enforce this, so please be polite. Merchants put markers outside of their stores to ensure 6 feet of distance between customers waiting to enter and must, whenever possible, ensure separation of 6 feet or more between customers inside. Contactless payment methods are encouraged. More details here

Yes, lifeguards are posted on Nantucket Town beaches to safeguard the public enjoying the waters around our island. Face-coverings are required on the beaches (not while swimming), and social distancing is required. Gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted on the beach. Visit the Insiders Guide to Nantucket for daily beach conditions.
Click here for more beach guidance from the Town of Nantucket.

Yes, island cabbies are accepting fares. Drivers will be wearing face-covering and will frequently disinfect their taxis. It is recommended that passengers wear face-coverings as well.

Yes, there are several options for public bathrooms in downtown Nantucket. Visitors Services at 25 Federal Street has men’s and women’s bathrooms (access around back of the Visitor Center) that are open every day from 9 am. And, if you have traveled to the island aboard a Steamship Authority vessel, there are bathrooms in their terminal on Steamboat Wharf. The airport (mid-island) also has bathrooms.Public Restroom Locations and hours | Nantucket, MA

Yes, Nantucket Cottage Hospital is located mid-island in new facilities.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital updates the count every evening here.

No, not this season: they want to avoid a crowded waiting room. For 2020, Nantucket Cottage Hospital will offer same-day and next-day appointments starting mid-June. Call 508-825-1066.
People calling for these appointments will be evaluated and might be referred to a virtual visit with telemedicine. Anyone with symptoms that could be COVID-19 will be referred to the NCH coronavirus team.
Do not avoid seeing a doctor if you need one!
Register at the Partners HealthCare Patient Gateway for a fast, free, convenient, secure way to reach your doctor’s office.

Nantucket is a place of natural beauty, and during the pandemic restrictions, outdoors is the perfect place to be. Rent a bike or a car and visit our island lighthouses, explore the village of Siasconset, take a walk at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation or on one of the many Nantucket Conservation Foundation Properties. Golf courses are open, fishing and sailing charters are accepting passengers, and guides are offering walking tours. Children’s playgrounds are open, with some restrictions and cautionary notes.

Indoor theaters are now permitted to open as part of Phase 3, and The Dreamland is showing films to a limited audience. the Dreamland has raised money for a new drive-in theatre at 7 Nobadeer Farm Road, now open. Tickets for both the indoor and the drive-in theater sell out FAST, so be prepared to plan in advance! You’ll find the schedule here.