With Indefinite Pause in Mass. Reopening, Businesses Describe ‘Dire Circumstances'

With Gov. Charlie Baker announcing that the next step of Phase 3 of Massachusetts' reopening is on hold indefinitely, businesses that were preparing to reopen are worried about their ability to survive

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Businesses awaiting the next phase of Massachusetts' reopening process learned Friday that it had been postponed indefinitely.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced a pause in the reopening amid an uptick in coronavirus cases. The second step of Phase 3 has been put on hold, and a new COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team is being established.

Brookline's iconic Puppet Showplace Theater has been entertaining children of all ages since the 1970s. They're still doing some online performances, but the theater is closed for live shows.

"We're facing pretty dire circumstances right now," said Roxie Myhrum, the theater's artistic director. "That's a shame. We're one of the few puppetry centers in the entire country."

In Fall River, Lazer Gate is also struggling. The laser tag facility was hoping to reopen sometime soon.

"We thought we might be good at the end of April," said owner Kevin O'Hara. "It just keeps getting pushed back ... so that's not good."

Both businesses are part of Phase 3, Step 2 in Massachusetts.

"We've got a choice to make right about now," said O'Hara. "Whether we can survive until whatever 'indefinitely' means or if this is just it."

The uptick in coronavirus cases is also prompting the governor to limit outdoor gatherings to 50 people, down from 100. He's giving more authority to police to issue fines and cease-and-desist orders to anyone not abiding by the state's rules.

"I am concerned," said Dr. Sabrina Assoumou, an infectious diseases physician at Boston Medical Center.

She says the state may need to do even more to contain the virus.

"It is time to stop and freeze where we are and even think do we need to even go further and take additional steps," she said.

At the puppet theater, reopening &mmdash; even if permitted — might not make economic sense given capacity restrictions.

"Even if we had been allowed to open, it wouldn't have been sustainable with the gathering restrictions," said Myhrum. "We would have needed to have at least 60 people in the audience in order just to break even on a show."

Gov. Charlie Baker announced new restrictions as coronavirus cases tick up.

The new mandate limiting outdoor gatherings to no more than 50 people will go into effect on Tuesday.

That rule has people planning weddings feeling the stress.

Arianna Brangiforte learned during her bachelorette party Friday night that she has to cut the 142-person guest list at her October wedding down to 50.

"We have to figure out who to cut, who not to cut," said Brangiforte. "It is just, it's a lot."

The groom is in the Navy and is set to deploy in the coming months, so delaying the wedding is not an option.

"We were all set. My mom was sending out all the invitations and everything, and we were super excited, and now, my mom is like, 'I don't know what to do,' and I'm like 'I don't know what to do,'" she said.

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