Boston, Other Communities Roll Back Reopening. Here's What's Shutting Down

Arlington, Brockton, Lynn, Newton, Somerville and Winthrop have joined Boston in moving back to Phase 2, Step 2 of Massachusetts' reopening plan

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Boston and several neighboring communities are rolling back to a modified version of Phase 2, Step 2 of Massachusetts' reopening plan Wednesday.

Other cities and towns including Arlington, Brockton, Lynn, Newton, Somerville and Winthrop are joining Boston in its rollback as coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket across the region.

Gyms, museums, indoor event spaces, adult indoor recreational and athletic facilities, sightseeing, historical locations and a few other industries will close Wednesday as part of the rollback to Phase 2, Step 2, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Monday.

The rest of the state had already moved back to Phase 3, Step 1 on Sunday, per an order issued by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The new restrictions are difficult to swallow for folks who earn a living in the affected industries. Gym owners in particular have said they feel like they're being targeted.

Owners of Boston fitness centers are frustrated that they will be forced to close again starting Wednesday due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Rowing instructor Talia Cuccia took to social media to voice her concerns after she found out her gym, along with others in the Greater Boston Area, were being forced to close.

"We are just getting back into it again and it just breaks my heart," Cuccia said.

Rebecca Skudder, owner of MyStryde, said the mayor's announcement acts as another hurdle for her South Boston running studio.

"I am really surprised, we have not have had any spread, not one email from any customers, mentioning that A - they felt unsafe, B - that they had COVID, or C - they felt like they got COVID here," Skudder said.

Gym owners point to state data that shows only 17 coronavirus cases have been tied to the recreation sector. Plus -- they say their work is imperative for people's mental health.

"We are helping people mentally and physically," Cuccia said. "I am really worried for the mental health community. I really really am."

Mental health professionals agree.

"Exercise is a really important component of self care and is really our body's anti-depressant, anti-anxiety," therapist Marta Sierra said.

Stores, salons and restaurants aren't impacted by the new restrictions, but restaurants will not be allowed to seat anyone in bar areas without prior approval from the city. Boston will beef up restaurant enforcement to ensure compliance with coronavirus guidelines via emergency oversight meetings set to take place every week, according to Walsh.

Gyms, movie theaters and indoor gathering spaces will have to shutter for three weeks after Boston and a few nearby communities revert back to Phase 2 Step 2.

Walsh said these latest steps were needed following a steady climb in COVID-19 cases in the weeks following Thanksgiving.

For the week that ended Dec. 6, Boston averaged 5,552 COVID-19 tests and 438 new positive results each day. The city's positive test rate for the week that ended Dec. 6 was 7.2%, up from 5.2% the week before, the mayor said. Dorchester, East Boston and Hyde Park all have neighborhood positivity rates between 10% and 12%. While testing was up nearly 38% from the prior week, Walsh said the average number of daily new cases is also up.

The surge in coronavirus cases since Thanksgiving has put a major strain on the state's health care system, Gov. Charlie Baker said on Tuesday.

Massachusetts reported 3,720 new coronavirus cases Tuesday and an additional 55 deaths.

There have now been 11,190 confirmed deaths and 286,866 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 253 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, has ticked up to 5.9%. The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has increased to 1,834. Of that number, 371 were listed as being in intensive care units and 200 are intubated, according to DPH.

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