Coronavirus Precautions

Mask use is optional at the Boston Shambhala Center, in accordance with Town of Brookline guidelines.

As of June 1, vaccinations and negative Covid tests are no longer required for participation in our programs.

If you are not feeling well, especially if you have any viral symptoms, please stay home and contact us to receive a refund.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we continue to update our policy to protect those who choose to join our in-person programs. Data always lags behind the need for information, so we do our best to make decisions with the information we have. We base our precautions on the current information from the Federal, State and Local Governments, as well as the advice of medical professionals. We encourage everyone to consider their own circumstances and take appropriate precautions. See below for more information on how we are addressing this pandemic.


Masks are optional
Everyone is welcome to wear a mask over their nose and mouth inside the building.

Stay home if you aren’t feeling well, and other general hygiene
Full refunds will be given for anyone not able to attend due to health concerns. Always wash your hands well (for 20 seconds) and limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth.


As of May 12, 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, under Section 319 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, has expired.

As of May 14, 2023 Massachusetts positive testing rates are at 2.97% according to the Mass.Gov reporting trend page. There seems to be low risk of transmission, which is supported by wastewater data.

We recognize that not everyone shares the same risk profile, and long term complications from COVID-19 seem to be common. Precautions such as vaccination, testing, distancing when feasible, staying home when sick, and general hygiene are still helpful. Many people are still at high risk, and some people may choose to continue to wear masks or to stay home and participate virtually. Please support these people to participate in whatever way they feel most comfortable.

In an attempt to balance the risks of illness with the social needs for human connection, to stay in line with other local guidelines, and to recognize the wide variation in risk profiles, we have developed the above harm-reduction policy. We hope this will allow people to make informed decisions and participate in the programs and settings that are appropriate to them. If you have questions or concerns about the policy, please feel free to reach out to the Center’s Executive Director Max Roberts-Zirker.


May 23, 2022 – Health Commissioner Sigalle Reiss announces that the Town of Brookline is reinstating face-covering requirements in town-owned indoor spaces where the public gathers due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

March 8, 2022 – Health Commissioner Sigalle Reiss and the Brookline Department of Public Health report that the Town of Brookline is lifting its indoor mask mandate for all individuals in public spaces beginning on Saturday, March 12.

February 23, 2022 – Acting Health Commissioner Patrick Maloney announces that the Town of Brookline is ending its requirement that certain businesses must verify patrons’ COVID-19 vaccination status, effective immediately.

February 18, 2022 – Mayor Michelle Wu and Dr. Bisola Ojikutu announced that the City’s proof of vaccination policy will be lifted effective immediately. Our public health data show Boston has a: 4.0% community positivity rate 90.7% occupancy rate of adult ICU beds, and 7-day average of adult COVID-19 hospitalizations at 195.9 per day, falling below all three previously announced thresholds.

February 17, 2022 – The City of Brookline announces that the mask mandate and proof of vaccination requirement continues to remain in effect though the need for these requirements will be reassessed next month.

January 12, 2022 – Starting February 15, the Town of Brookline will require proof of vaccination for patrons at all Restaurants, Gyms and Entertainment Venues. See the post on their website about this here. The Boston Shambhala Center is considered a church, which are not listed in this regulation. In a phone call today with Roland Lenka, the Chief Inspector of the Brookline Department of Public Health, he confirmed that the regulation applies to commercial activities and as a church we are exempt. The full regulation can be read here.

29 Aug, 2021 – The City of Brookline, MA has ordered the use of face masks for all people indoors at public events. (See Brookline MA COVID-19 Press Release). Although the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State of Emergency is no longer in effect, we are still obligated to follow all local Health Department measures.

August 2, 2021 – Based on current information it seems that while only a small percentage of vaccinated people will still get infected, those infected individuals are still able to transmit the virus at about the same rate as a non-vaccinated person. Because of this new information, masking remains an important preventative measure even for vaccinated individuals where social distancing is not possible. Good explanation is available from The Daily NYT podcast.

May 29, 2021 – “People who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks in most settings or practice social distancing. And organizers of large outdoor gatherings, along with restaurants and other businesses, can end capacity restrictions due to COVID-19.” article Saturday marks the end of most COVID-19 restrictions in Massachusetts

April 30, 2021 – Massachusetts no longer requires masks while outdoors and physically distancing. The Commonwealth also announced important dates and phases for further easing of restrictions.
WBUR article: Mass. Loosens Outdoor Mask Mandate And Outlines Lifting Of COVID Rules


  1. Authoritative sources
    1. US CDC COVID-19 Guidance, particularly Considerations for Communities of Faith and Considerations for Community-Based Organizations 
    2. COVID-19 Reporting & Interactive Dashboard
    3. COVID-19 Updates and Information
    4. COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment
    5. City of Boston Coronavirus Information Page
    6. Scientific American “When Should You Get a COVID Test?” – what different test types tell you and when to use them
  2. Internal resources
    1. The BSC team tasked with coordinating our response to this pandemic are:
      1. Max Roberts-Zirker, Executive Director
      2. John Ranco, Board Member
      3. Jim Katz, Rusung
    2. BSC respects your concerns and feedback about our mitigation efforts. Please email, text, or call with any questions or concerns to Rusung Jim Katz [email protected], cell 781.430.8512

What you can do

  1. Get vaccinated
  2. Familiarize yourself with good information. Wash your hands regularly. Get plenty of rest. Recognize that you may acquire, already have, or have had this illness without being aware of it. Be kind to yourself.
  3. If you are not feeling well for any reason, please stay home and take care of yourself. Follow the guidelines above. We hope to see you when you are feeling better
  4. When visiting the Shambhala Meditation Center:
    1. Try to limit the use of shared implements by bringing your favorite water bottle or travel mug. (Please bring them home with you.)
    2. Help clean at the end of a program. This could be considered a natural extension of putting cushions away.
    3. Leave space between yourself and 0thers.


Response to this situation can be framed in regard to societal health, going beyond the fear of our own personal situations and practicing care for others – particularly those more vulnerable. Each of us is subject to the countless external interactions we’ve experienced, and to some extent, that is out of our control.

We can control our responses, and those efforts can influence the spread of the disease. This is the focus or our response. Mitigating the spread has a powerful ripple effect on the society at large:

If we practice protective measures, our effort will buy time and resources for health care providers to handle the expected growth of cases. If those cases stay below the capacity limit, then they will be able to keep themselves and us safe. The red spike in cases  above is a worst-case scenario for health providers. It’s so critical to not burn out our health care workers!


In such times of concern, noticing our our personal tendencies to amplify or downplay, continuing to practice – whether together or at home – are valuable, grounding and remind us of our larger perspective. We can work as a community to reduce the spread and intensity of coronavirus within our sphere of control, which is the Boston Shambhala Center facility itself. We are working to encourage coordinators and participants in gateway programs to clean and disinfect potential contact surfaces daily.


  1. All shared utensils will be washed through the dishwasher. Hand washing is not sufficient to sanitize. Detailed instructions on how to handle overflows are being developed, and will be posted in this document..
  2. Program participants will be encouraged to help disinfect the center daily.