Marking another turning point in the pandemic, Islanders can now shop, dine out and enter most public buildings without masks, following a unanimous vote by the six town boards of health Wednesday.

The six-town decision to suspend the mask mandate went into effect as soon as the health boards’ joint meeting adjourned shortly before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, after nearly an hour and a half of discussion and public comment.

“It’s time to suspend,” Chilmark health board member Jan Buhrman said. “The community has trusted us . . . We should do what the CDC is recommending.”

More than 155 people attended the meeting held over Zoom.

The lifting of the mandate is not universal; under federal law, face coverings are still required on public transportation through at least March 18. This includes the Vineyard Transit Authority and the Steamship Authority, spokesmen for both lines confirmed Thursday.

“You’re still required to have a mask on for all public transit,” VTA administrator Angela Grant told the Gazette by phone.

The policy also applies to VTA headquarters, she said.

“There’s some federal money in this building, [so] we also have to have them on in the building,” Ms. Grant said.

“[I’m] hoping that some of that gets lightened up once they reevaluate in the middle of the month,” she continued. “But for us, it’s business as it’s been

since it started.” Masks are available aboard VTA buses for those who do not have their own.

The SSA operates under Coast Guard (federal) rules, spokesman Sean Driscoll said.

Masks are also still required at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, which takes its direction from the Massachusetts Department of Health and the Mass General Brigham system, hospital spokeswoman Marissa Lefebvre said.

“Even last summer when the mandate was lifted, hospitals were still required to have masks. All visitors and patients and employees,” she said.

She did not know when the hospital expects to hear from the state, but Ms. Lefebvre indicated the mask mandate in the hospital is here to stay.

“It’s unlikely for quite some time, but again, nothing is changing at least for right now,” she said.

Island libraries also will retain their masking policies for the next few weeks, with the potential exception of Oak Bluffs.

Face covering requirements have followed the ebb and flow of the pandemic on the Vineyard for the past two years.

At one point masks were required indoors and out. Later the indoor requirement was retained, but the outdoor requirement lifted.

Early last summer when Covid-19 case counts were well down, the boards of health suspended the indoor mandate.

But in mid-August, with the Delta variant raging, the requirement was reinstated.

It stayed in place until this week.

One day after the vote by the health boards, many businesses around the Island took down the signs that had been taped to the doors for months, warning patrons that face coverings were mandatory.

In a message posted on its Facebook page, Cronig’s Markets took note of the change.

“All Cronig’s locations have decided to no longer require masks following the recent Islandwide decision top lift the mask mandate,” the post said. “We still encourage everyone to wear one if they’d like to. Thank you to all of our customers.”

At the Wednesday meeting library directors registered their concerns.

“We have a lot of elderly visitors who are in the high risk category. They’re still reluctant,” said Vineyard Haven library director Amy Ryan during the public comment session preceding the vote.

“We want to balance people’s safety and their comfort,” Ms. Ryan said.

Five of the Island’s six public libraries are run by elected boards that have jurisdiction over activities in their buildings, including masking, Chilmark library director Ebba Hierta said. The Oak Bluffs library, which has an appointed board, is unable to set its own policy, library director Allyson Malik said as she requested the ability to keep requiring masks.

“The kids generally coming to story time . . . are under five [and] none of them have been vaccinated,” Ms. Malik said.

The Oak Bluffs health board agreed to allow Ms. Malik to continue the library’s current masking policy until she can bring her request to the town select board at its next meeting.

Wednesday’s all-Island vote to suspend the mandate also stipulates that it will go back into effect automatically if infections and hospitalizations on the Vineyard rise to levels specified by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

And face coverings are still required as part of the state Department of Public Health guidance for isolation and quarantine for people who contract Covid-19.

Health board members discussed, then abandoned an amendment that would have expressly stated the rights of individual proprietors to set masking rules at their establishments.

“The businesses can make their own decisions about masking,” said Tisbury health agent Maura Valley.

Moderated by Tisbury building inspector Ross Seavey, the virtual meeting saw ample public comment, much of it critical of the measures that have been used to control infection and community spread of the virus, and are widely considered sound by most public health experts.

“Masks are ridiculous. They don’t work,” Lara Maciel said.

Edgartown school committee member Louis Paciello said he was happy that children won’t have to mask up in school, but displeased with the health boards’ reliance on CDC recommendations.

“I’d like for you to not follow the CDC so much,” Mr. Paciello said.