Massachusetts takes a step back today in its reopening plan, retightening restrictions to levels in place over the summer as COVID-19 case counts soar in the state.
Gov. Charlie Baker last week announced that starting Sunday, the Commonwealth would shift to Phase 3, Step 1, albeit with some alterations to the plan.
The primary goal, according to Baker, is to reduce capacity for "pretty much everything," including updating rules surrounding restaurants, offices and gyms.
Limits for outdoor gatherings are now set at 50 people, down from 100 in Phase 3, Step 2. Anyone hosting a gathering of 25 or more people outdoors is responsible for notifying their local health board.
Gyms, libraries, museums, retail stores, offices, houses of worship and other locations must cap their capacity at 40% now, instead of the 50% previously allowed.
Restaurant goers now have a new 90-minute limit on the time they can spend dining at their table, and seating is now limited to six per group, down from 10 previously. Food court seating in malls must be closed and musical showcases in restaurants are no longer permitted.
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Masks must be worn more frequently in public settings, too, including at all times in gyms, as well as places of work - except when an employee is alone in their own workspace. Employers are encouraged to close or limit the use of the break room.
Massachusetts reported 4,968 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, along with 47 more deaths. The death toll remained the same from Friday.
It was the first time in three days that the number of new cases didn't surpass 5,000, albeit barely. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, dipped to 5.6%, according to the report — down slightly from Friday's 5.7%.
There are 1,670 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state, with 334 listed as being in intensive care units and 170 are intubated, according to DPH.