coronavirus in new england

These High-Risk Mass. Communities Are Moving Back to Step 1 of Phase 3

The communities have remained in the state's "red zone" for three consecutive weeks

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More than a dozen communities in Massachusetts are reverting back to Step 1 of Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan after being designated as high-risk communities for three weeks now.

Some of these businesses just opened a few weeks ago under the state’s guidelines and now, today, will have to close yet again.

The state releases its weekly reports based on 14 days of information. There are 13 cities and towns that fall under that category including Chelmsford, Holyoke, Malden, Kingston, Randolph and Woburn.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Massachusetts, some cities and towns are taking a step back in their reopening processes.

Businesses like roller skating rinks, trampoline parks, escape rooms and indoor theaters and performance venues have to remain closed during this time.

Businesses like roller skating rinks, trampoline parks, escape rooms and indoor theaters and performance venues have to remain closed during this time.

Xtreme Craze in Woburn, an entertainment complex that features laser tag and other activities, is now closed temporarily. Owner Greg Hughes said it was tough to do just three weeks after reopening.

"Our managers and staff of about 35 people came back at the beginning of the month and here we are again. We had to lay everyone off again," Hughes said.

After three sustained weeks of high-risk status, a dozen communities will have to rollback reopening.

Hughes also owns three other locations and said he has been following all of the protocols to keep them safe. With numbers trending in the wrong direction, he is worried he may have to close more.

"A huge part of me worries it's going to get worse, but we have no idea," Hughes said.

The Roller Kingdom in Hudson was also forced to close. Jeff Thiese, who helps run the business with his father, said this proves business owners need more federal assistance now.

"We're not giving up, but another few months of this and it will ruin our family's business of 42 years," Theise said.

For other businesses it would require them to reduce capacity from 50% to 40% for places like gyms, libraries, museums, arcades and driving and flight schools.

"For us, it's just controlling what we can control. It is frustrating at times, but right now, I kind of have to roll with the punches," said Angel Jimenez, owner of Boston Underground Strength Training in Waltham. "Go with the flow and then just keep moving forward, adapt to whatever the state gives us."

Jimenez has been trying to keep the number of people on the gym floor relatively low to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.

Gyms can stay open, but the reduced capacity is another frustrating blow in the struggle to survive.

Jimenez has already lost at least 70 members.

"We're open, we're operating, and honestly, right now, that's enough," he said.

During this phase, outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings are limited to 50 people.

The following is the full list of communities who have been reverted back to high-risk:

  • Acushnet
  • Brockton
  • Chelmsford
  • Leicester
  • Malden
  • Plymouth
  • Randolph
  • Waltham
  • Webster
  • Woburn

The rollback of reopening for the 13 communities comes amid a spike in positive cases across the state.

Massachusetts confirmed 24 new deaths and 1,097 more coronavirus cases Sunday, the second straight day the state has announced more than 1,000 new cases.

The high case numbers two days in a row from the Department of Public Health -- the likes of which haven't been seen since mid May -- continue to show a marked increase in the number of cases being reported in the state this fall.

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