Somerville Business Owners Upset With City's Slow Reopening

With Massachusetts moving into Phase 4 of its reopening process, Somerville is keeping its capacity restrictions in place

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Somerville business owner Maria Rondeau says it's not easy to watch as Massachusetts continues to move forward with the reopening process while her city does not follow along.

"We understand the city has made tough decisions," she said. "Safety is their priority, and so is ours."

As the state heads to Phase 4, loosening capacity restrictions, Somerville remains at 25%. That means only six customers are allowed inside Celeste, Rondeau's Peruvian restaurant in Union Square.

"Our neighbors are operating at different capacities," she said. "But we are hanging in there, we will make it through."

At Rx Strength Training, owner Jeff Butterworth is also dealing with the fallout of capacity limitations at his gym.

"I know the thought isn't to crush businesses," he said. "But it is crushing businesses."

Business was down about 70% at the height of the pandemic, and while revenues have been increasing, he needs more people able to work out at one time.

"Essentially for us, in our 5,000-square-foot facility, we can still only have 17 people in here at a time," he said.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said he's following the experts.

"They've made clear that we stand to risk our best shot at recovery if we open up before we get more people vaccinated and a better understanding of the new virus variants," he said in a statement. "In Somerville, we are choosing to listen. Our goal is to beat this virus for the long-term and for good, and not just until the next surge."

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