Three major changes take effect in Massachusetts Monday with regard to coronavirus guidelines; the state moves into the final phase of reopening, relaxed travel restrictions take effect and outdoor dining returns for most of Boston.
Gov. Charlie Baker announced the move to Phase 4, Step 1 of the Massachusetts reopening plan last week, along with the decision to replace the state's COVID-19 travel order with a travel advisory. The latest reopening phase allows large entertainment and sports venues to reopen and increases gathering limits.
State officials have cited improving public health metrics, like the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations, in their decision to loosen restrictions.
Residents at least 60 years old and a new group of essential workers become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, including grocery store and restaurant workers. The next group of residents eligible for the vaccine includes those aged 55 and older or residents with one certain medical condition, beginning April 5.
Here's everything you need to know:
Mass. Enters Phase 4
Large entertainment and sports venues like the TD Garden and Fenway Park will be able to reopen to fans, albeit with 12% capacity restrictions.
Additionally, gathering limits at event venues and public settings increase to 100 people inside and 150 people outside. Private gathering limits remain at 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
For the Garden, this means roughly 2,350 fans and a little more than 4,500 fans at Fenway. It is unclear how the Bruins' recent COVID-19 pause, which postponed the first game due to have fans back on Tuesday, will affect their next scheduled home game, Thursday vs. the Islanders at 7 p.m. in Boston.
The Red Sox' first home game, the season opener, is scheduled for Thursday, April 1. Businesses around Fenway Park are awaiting the arrival of the local nine.
Summer camps, exhibitions and convention halls will also be allowed to operate under Phase 4, and weddings and other events may include dance floors.
Boston Restaurants Resume Outdoor Dining
Boston's outdoor dining program begins Monday -- 10 days earlier than originally planned due to the weather, Mayor Marty Walsh announced earlier this month.
But the city's North End has to wait until April 1, according to the Boston Licensing Board, which cited "high density" for the delay.
The city's outdoor dining initiative started last year to help restaurants survive during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mass. Travel Order Changes
Under the new travel advisory, anyone arriving in the state after being elsewhere for more than 24 hours will be advised to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival.
Previously, people coming from states without an exemption were required to fill out the form and quarantine for 10 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival.
The advisory does not apply to anyone in the following categories, according to the administration:
- Anyone who is returning to Massachusetts after an absence of fewer than 24 hours.
- Travelers who have a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in Massachusetts.
- Workers who enter Massachusetts to perform critical infrastructure functions (as specified by the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) while they are commuting to or from or while at work.
- Travelers who are fully vaccinated (i.e. who have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines OR who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 14 days or more ago and who do not have symptoms).
Under the outgoing travel order, people can travel to Massachusetts from just four states and one U.S. territory: Oregon, Washington, Missouri, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.