While most of Massachusetts is already in Phase 3 of the state's economic reopening plan, one city has decided it will hold out for one more week amid concerns over the resurgence of the novel coronavirus.
Somerville is delaying its reopening until later this month, even as Boston prepares to begin Phase 3 on Monday
“We’re not going to rush reopening,” Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said.
City officials announced Friday that Phase 3 business establishments in Somerville will be allowed to reopen on July 20, so long as safety precautions are met.
Gyms, movie theaters, cultural centers and performance venues are among the establishments that will have to wait longer to reopen.
“We are engaging and working with all the different sectors of our economy and the other activities that are outlined in Phase 3 that say if we open, we want to get this right,” said Mayor Curtatone.
Somerville, the most densely populated city in New England, has had 33 COVID-19 deaths. It’s why Mayor Curtatone says they need to take a more cautious approach than the rest of the state.
“Our statewide response has a cool code name, but it lacks the true vigilance needed to make sure COVID-19 does not experience a resurgence in Massachusetts," the mayor said on Twitter this week.
“I don’t believe we are truly being vigilant as we should be, and I’m really concerned about that,” Mayor Curtatone said.
He says the goal should be to get schools to open in the fall.
“We’re not going to be able to do that if there is a rush to open certain activities like casinos and other high risk activities that would cause us to be less prepared for the resurgence,” Mayor Curtatone said.
Somerville will begin Phase 3 in stages.
“We know we are going to get hit with a resurgence and the question is, will it be as bad as the first surge or worse? And we just can’t afford that,” he said.
The city had said in early July that it would follow a more cautious reopening schedule than what Gov. Charlie Baker had laid out for Massachusetts' Phase 3, at first naming July 13 as the earliest date it would begin.
On July 20, the city will also issue new guidelines for indoor and outdoor activities. Officials say they will go beyond those imposed by the state.
"Research shows that the risk of coronavirus transmission is significantly higher in indoor spaces and that larger events and gatherings can lead to exponentially more virus spread if an infected person is present,” Director of Health and Human Services Doug Kress said in a statement. “People with COVID-19 can also pass this virus on to others even when they have no or only mild symptoms. So it is imperative that we remain vigilant and move forward thoughtfully and carefully as we enter into Phase 3."