Coronavirus

Baker Tweaks Next Step in Mass. Reopening Plan, Which Starts Monday

Other regulations for the partial Phase 4, Step 2 reopening for May 10 remain the same

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The next phase in Massachusetts reopening begins Monday, when some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries can open again.

But the Baker administration announced Friday a change to the plan that wasn't included in the initial announcement: supermarkets and other stores won't have to offer senior hours anymore.

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For over a year, many stores have had to set aside time when seniors and others in high-risk populations can shop exclusively, so they'll be exposed to fewer people. But starting Monday, that regulation is being removed, though it's still being encouraged.

"Grocery stores and retail stores with a pharmacy department should consider dedicated hours of operation for seniors, but will no longer be required to offer senior hours," the administration said in a news release.

Other regulations for the partial Phase 4, Step 2 reopening remain the same.

Also starting Monday, May 10, large venues such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks currently open as part of Phase 4, Step 1 at 12% will be permitted to increase capacity to 25%.

The commonwealth will reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries including amusement parks, theme parks and outdoor water parks that will be permitted to operate at a 50% capacity after submitting safety plans to the Department of Public Health.

Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events will be permitted to take place with staggered starts after submitting safety plans to a local board of health or the Department of Public Health.

Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate and high risk sports.

Singing will also be permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues and other businesses.

Both the CDC and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that outdoor mask mandates are being eased, and there were more changes to know, especially for Massachusetts businesses. J.C. Monahan runs through them.

And effective May 29 -- if public health and vaccination data permit -- gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings and private settings.

Subject to public health and vaccination data, additional Phase 4, Step 2 industries will be permitted to open, including:

  • Street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals, at 50% of their previous capacity and after submitting safety plans to the local board of health.
  • Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries, will be subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90 minute limit and no dance floors.

Subject to public health and vaccination data, the restaurant guidance will be updated to eliminate the requirement that food be served with alcohol and to increase the maximum table size to 10.

And finally, on Aug. 1 -- again, if public health and vaccination data permit -- gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings and private settings.

Subject to public health and vaccination data, remaining industries will be permitted to open including:

  • Dance clubs, and nightclubs
  • Saunas, hot-tubs, steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs and other facilities
  • Indoor water parks
  • Ball pits

All industry restrictions will be lifted at that time, and capacity will increase to 100% for all industries, with businesses encouraged to continue following best practices. The gathering limit will be rescinded.

Depending on vaccine distribution and public health data, the administration may consider re-evaluating the Aug. 1 date.

The Department of Public Health will also continue to issue guidance as needed, including guidance to still require masks indoors.

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