Baker-Polito Administration Announces Plans for Continued Reopening

BOSTON — With public-health metrics continuing to trend in a positive direction, the Baker-Polito administration announced that Massachusetts would advance to step 2 of phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan on Monday, March 1, and also announced its plan to transition to step 1 of phase 4 on Monday, March 22.

On May 18, 2020, the administration released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy conditioned on sustained improvements in public health data. As of October, the reopening had proceeded to step 2 of phase 3 of the plan. On Dec. 13, in response to an increase in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations following the Thanksgiving holiday, the Commonwealth returned to step 1 of phase 3, reducing capacities across a broad range of sectors and tightening several other workplace restrictions.

Since the beginning of this year, key public-health data, such as new cases and hospitalizations, have been closely monitored, and a significant decline has been documented, allowing for a return to step 2 of phase 3, effective March 1 for all cities and towns. This includes the following updates to businesses, activities, and capacities:

• Indoor performance venues, such as concert halls, theaters, and other indoor performance spaces, will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity with no more than 500 in attendance;

• Indoor recreational activities with greater potential for contact (laser tag, roller skating, trampolines, obstacle courses) will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity;

• Capacity limits across all sectors with capacity limits will be raised to 50%, excluding employees;

• Restaurants will no longer have a percent capacity limit and will be permitted to host musical performances; six-foot social distancing, limits of six people per table, and 90-minute limits remain in place; and

• Residents must continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and are encouraged to avoid contact outside of their immediate households, and the travel advisory and other public-health orders remain in effect.

Provided public-health metrics continue to improve, effective on March 22, all communities in Massachusetts will move into step 1 of phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan. This will open a range of previously closed business sectors under tight capacity restrictions that are expected to be adjusted over time if favorable trends in the public-health data continue. Effective on the planned advancement to step 1 of phase IV, indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks will be permitted to operate at a strict 12% capacity limit after submitting a plan to the Department of Public Health (DPH).

Also effective on March 22, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.

Additionally, dance floors will be permitted at weddings and other events only, and overnight summer camps will be allowed to operate this coming summer. Exhibition and convention halls may also begin to operate, following gatherings limits and event protocols. Other phase 4 sectors must continue to remain closed.