Gov. Charlie Baker is reinstating some restrictions meant to help slow the spread of the coronavirus as the state experiences a second surge in cases of COVID-19, which is putting more strain on the state's health care system.
Beginning Sunday, the state will reduce the maximum number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings from 100 to 50 under the new guidelines outlined by Baker at a Tuesday press conference. Hosts of outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people will be required to provide advance notice of the gathering to their local board of health.
Indoor theaters and performance venues will once again have to close. Outdoor theaters and performance venues will be limited to 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people. Movie theaters will be limited to a maximum of 50 people per theater.
Stores, houses of worship, gyms, libraries, museums and other indoor spaces will have to reduce their capacity from 50% to 40%.
Office workers must wear masks when not in their own workspace and alone, and should work from home if possible.
At restaurants, diners must wear masks at all time except while eating or drinking. No more than six people will be allowed at a table instead of 10, and there will now be a 90-minute limit for meals. Food courts in malls will close. Diners at restaurants should only be eating with members of their households if possible.
Baker said the increase in the rate that Massachusetts residents are getting infected and the rate at which they need medical care is not sustainable over time.
"Massachusetts is being tested again,'' Baker said. "We have to do more.''
Baker said he understands the tightened restrictions will be difficult for many businesses and residents.
"We're social people. We miss our friends," he said. "We get it.''
Rollback Coverage in Massachusetts
But for people like Erin Madore, owner of the Savin Hill Fitness Studio, Baker's announcement is coming at an especially bad time.
"I honestly felt like I got kicked in the stomach," she said Tuesday.
Madore recently made the difficult decision to close her studio and relocate to a smaller space with cheaper rent. Now, she will have to reduce capacity at her new spot during a time when she needs every customer she can get.
"I was walking up the stairs when I found out and I had to stop myself because I felt like I couldn't breathe, like I was going to cry, the world was crashing down around me," she said. "There is continued restrictions, lack of support, no end in sight."
Elsewhere in the commonwealth, it was already shaping up to be a rough couple of days in Falmouth where Saturday's powerful nor'easter tore down the outdoor dining tent at C Salt.
"I don't feel great, I have a smile on my face, trying to stay positive," C Salt Chef and Owner Jonathan Philips said Tuesday. "As a owner and chef of a restaurant, a very small restaurant on Cape Cod during all of this, the weight of my employees really weigh on you."
C Salt, like every restaurant in the Bay State, must adhere to the new dining restrictions, which means reducing tables to six people and capping customers' meals at 90 minutes.
"It is going to be really tricky for us to say to the guests, 'I'm sorry but you can't have dessert this evening,'" Philips said.