The city of Somerville, Massachusetts will seek to enter Phase 3 of its reopening this week, allowing fitness clubs, martial arts and non-athletic instructional classes to resume activities with restrictions in place.
Officials said it would enter "Phase 3.1" of its reopening Thursday if the number coronavirus cases in the city continue to trend downward.
Under the plan, movie theaters, outdoor theaters and performance venues, museums and historical sites and indoor recreational facilities will remain closed.
The move comes after Somerville delayed entering Phase 3 despite the vast majority of the state having done so weeks ago, saying its 7-day and 14-day case averages were still too high.
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That means indoor and outdoor gatherings have been stuck in Phase 2, with no more than 10 people allowed, which is stricter than the state's guidelines.
"At one point, we were down to about 30% of our usual business model," said Jeff Butterworth, owner of RX Strength Training.
The city has said he can't operate until Phase 3, which has repeatedly been pushed back. But he says the state's guidelines allow him to operate with 10 or fewer people, which has helped his business survive.
"We fortunately were able to stay afloat, and now it looks like we're going to be able to take off and really start serving our members again," Butterworth said Monday.
During Phase 3.1, all visitors to fitness facilities must wear face coverings and sign up in advance for group classes and open gyms. All facilities much meet COVID-19 guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.
Motion picture, television and streaming productions will also be allowed to resume. Employees and participants mus wear face masks, and groups must be limited to 10.
Participants at martial arts and dance facilities must wear masks, and gatherings at those places will be limited to 10 people.
Non-athletic instructional classes will be limited to 10 people per facility and masks will be required.
All businesses must meet all requirements laid out by the state, as well as city requirements. This will require submitting a COVID-19 control plan template to the city, as well as a facility-specific health and safety plan and layout plan.
Officials said during a Zoom meeting with business owners that city inspectors would be visiting businesses during Phase 3.1, and that their priority would be to help owners come into compliance with guidelines.
Mayor Joseph Curtatone has said that if the coronavirus numbers in Somerville continue to trend in the right direction, the city would consider a limited reopening of gyms and indoor recreational facilities on Sept. 8. The businesses that fall under this category would still have to meet stringent safety requirements.
As of last week's state Department of Public Health report, Somerville had seen 50 new coronavirus cases over the previous 14 days, for a total of 1,104 since the start of the pandemic. The average daily incidence rate per 100,000 was 4.7, putting it in the yellow, or moderate risk, category.