The City of Somerville is again postponing Phase 3 reopening of its establishments, citing the rising coronavirus case counts in Massachusetts.
The city had initially said it would push its Phase 3 opening back to July 20 -- two weeks after most of the rest of the state entered Phase 3. The reopening was pushed back again to the beginning of August due to rising new case averages in the metro area and concerns about the state's contact tracing program.
On Friday, the city confirmed that reopening would be postponed indefinitely.
“Pressing pause on this next phase is painful, but necessary as we strive to protect our residents and give ourselves a fighting chance of getting our kids back into schools,” Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said in a written statement.
Somerville Superintendent Mary Skipper has said students returning to the classroom full time in the fall will not be an option.
Somerville will continue to limit indoor and outdoor gatherings to 10 people.
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However, the city will allow approved gyms and fitness centers to operate outdoor fitness classes and group activities of up to 25 participants.
“We are watching as the virus rages and businesses are shut back down in states that ignored clear warnings that they were opening too quickly. We are also watching state and local data head in the wrong direction. At the same time, testing and contact tracing concerns and challenges continue to rise," Curtatone said.
"This is a dangerous mix,” he added.
The rest of Massachusetts is already in Phase 3 of the state's economic reopening plan.
Somerville, the most densely populated city in New England, has had almost 1,000 COVID-19 cases and over 30 deaths. It’s why Curtatone has said the city needs to take a more cautious approach than the rest of the state.
The city said it would provide another updated likely around August 17.