Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that the next stage of the state's reopening from the coronavirus shutdowns, including indoor dining, will begin on Monday
Restaurants will be required to limit parties to six people and provide six feet of distancing between tables. No bar seating will be allowed.
"We don't know exactly what people are going to do, but for those who enjoy going out to eat, you should know standards are going to be in place that are designed to make sure that's a safe experience," Baker said.
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The second step of Phase 2 of the state's 4-phased reopening plan also includes increasing capacity at offices from 25% to 50% and allowing retailers to open fitting rooms by appointment only.
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Also able to open Monday are nail and tanning salons, tattoo parlors and body piercing, personal training, massage therapy, hair removal, and hair replacement or scalp treatments.
"While we are making progress toward reopening the state's economy, it's imperative that communities, businesses and residents continue to adhere to our public health guidance and protocols as we transition to a new normal. It really is in your hands and you've done a tremendous job working through these challenging times but doing your part," Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said.
The governor said a little more than a week ago when he announced the start of Phase 2 of the reopening that it would unfold in two steps, with indoor restaurant dining put on hold and businesses like nail salons also told to wait a little longer.
Phase 3, including the reopening of gyms, outdoor camps, museums and more, will start no sooner than July 6, Baker said Friday.
Thirty six new coronavirus deaths were reported in Massachusetts Thursday, along with 271 more cases.
The Department of Public Health's daily COVID-19 report showed that the death toll has risen to 7,770. A total of 106,422 people in Massachusetts have now tested positive for the virus.
This week saw the fewest deaths yet reported in one of the reports -- on Tuesday, the state determined that 18 more people had died, a record low since the pandemic surged in April.
On Wednesday, the population of coronavirus-positive patients in Massachusetts hospitals dropped below 1,000 people for the first time since the surge as well. Overall, hospitalizations are down 72% from mid-April.
"Here in Massachusetts, this thing has been devastating in so many ways, and part of the reason we have been so careful and cautious about the way we move forward is because the last thing we want to do is ever put people in the kind of position we all found ourselves in this March, April and May again," Baker said.
"Keep in mind that COVID doesn't take the summer off," he added. "We're reopening and containing COVID, but it only works when everybody does their job to slow the spread."
State officials also announced Friday that they have launched a new testing website -- ma.gov/gettested -- with information on who needs a test and how to get one. And they will be rolling out a testing public awareness campaign on billboards and social media.
Here's where we stand on reopening Massachusetts:
What Businesses Are Open in Massachusetts Now?
Note that reopened businesses are still required to follow workspace safety guidelines that incorporate social distancing, hygiene and staffing requirements, as well as guidelines specific to individual sectors.
- Essential businesses
- Banks and financial services
- Churches and other houses of worship
- Restaurants (outdoor seating)
- Retail stores
- Short-term lodgings like hotels, motels and inns
- Construction, home remodeling and installations
- Warehouses and distribution centers
- In-house services like babysitting and nannying
- Real estate open houses, with restrictions
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Day camps
- Youth sports
- Funeral homes
- Office spaces
- Car dealerships
- Car washes
- Drive-in movie theaters
- Pet grooming
- Beaches, golf clubs and facilities, parks, fishing, hunting, boating, outdoor adventure activities
- Outdoor recreational facilities like pools, playgrounds, mini golf and batting cages
- Outdoor amateur sports
- Professional sports practice and training
- Outdoor historical spaces, gardens, zoos and public spaces
- Gun stores and shooting ranges
- Lab spaces
- Casino hotels and restaurants (but not gaming floors, theaters or arenas)
- Driving schools
- Occupational schools -- if students are finishing "a degree, program, or prerequisite for employment, or other similar requirement for completion"
- Non-close contact personal services, like window washing, photography and career coaching
- Non-athletic instructional classes for arts, education or life skills, for anyone under 18 and in groups of less than 10
- Flight schools
- Beer gardens, breweries, distilleries and wineries -- if serving outdoor food under dining permits
What Businesses Are Still Closed in Massachusetts?
Any business in Step 2 of Phase 2 or in Phase 3 and 4 of the reopening plan is still required to stay closed. That includes:
- Restaurants for indoor dining (Phase 2, Step 2)
- Bars, nightclubs, dance clubs, beer gardens, breweries, distilleries and wineries (Phase 4)
- Outdoor weddings, events and large gatherings with moderate capacity (Phase 3)
- Outdoor camps (Phase 3)
- Close-contact personal services like nail salons, massages and tattoo parlors (Phase 2, Step 2)
- Movie theaters (Phase 3 for moderate-capacity theaters, Phase 4 for large-capacity theaters)
- Gyms, fitness clubs and health clubs (Phase 3, with their sauas, steam rooms and hot tubs in Phase 4)
- Personal trainers (Phase 2, Step 2)
- Indoor amateur sports and athletic facilities besides for youth programs (Phase 3)
- Museums and aquariums (Phase 3)
- Indoor historic spaces (Phase 3)
- Moderate-capacity theaters and performance halls (Phase 3)
- Large-capacity venues, like theaters, ballrooms, stadiums and convention halls (Phase 4)
- Amusement parks, theme parks and water parks (Phase 4)
- Non-athletic instructional classes for arts, education or life skills, for anyone 18 or older and in groups of any size (Phase 3)
- Movie and TV productions (Phase 3)