When Will Phase 4 of Massachusetts' Reopening Happen?

The final phase of Massachusetts' reopening process will not begin until there is a treatment or a vaccine, so some businesses are trying to get creative

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With Phase 3 of Massachusetts' reopening plan well underway, many are wondering how long it will be before Phase 4 can commence. The answer? It remains unclear.

According to the state's guidelines, Phase 4 includes bars, nightclubs and large entertainment venues, none of which can reopen until there is a treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19.

"Being placed in Phase 4 is an exceptionally difficult place," said Vincent DeMore of Henning Strategies.

The law firm represents several businesses in Boston that are currently in limbo.

"Their fixed costs remain in place. Their rent, their mortgages, their insurance their taxes. Those don't go away," explained DeMore. "Meanwhile, there's zero dollars in revenue."

Some venues, like the House of Blues in Boston, have reinvented their business to reopen. The concert space has opened a patio for drinks and food on top of the Lansdowne Garage.

"I call it the pandemic pivot," said David Littlefield, who owns The Sausage Guy.

The sausage stand outside Fenway Park normally relies on thousands of fans at games and shows to support his business. Now, he's teaming up with the House of Blues and other spaces to continue reaching customers amidst the closures.

"We are all just trying to keep the blood flowing and get some revenue going to take care of business obligations," Littlefield explained.

But even businesses that have been allowed to reopen have struggled in recent weeks.

"When the guidelines came out, we were very surprised," said Katherine Tallman, executive director of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation.

Under the current restrictions, the theater would only be allowed to fill 25 of the 440 seats in one of its theaters. Concessions would also be prohibited, canceling a large revenue stream.

"That's economically inviable," said Tallman. "We can't afford to turn on the AC or hire staff for that level, so it really put us into, 'OK, we are not opening.'"

Tallman hopes Gov. Charlie Baker will reconsider some of the restrictions moving forward, but other businesses are not so sure that will happen for them.

"Everyone is trying to do what they can do, and that's what we are doing," said Littlefield.

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