With Massachusetts' coronavirus metrics vastly improved over the last few months, the state is ready to move to its next phase of reopening.
On Monday, July 6, Phase 3 will go into place for everywhere in Massachusetts except Boston -- which will join the rest of the state one week later. Gov. Charlie Baker made the announcement Thursday, noting that its the riskiest phase yet, and it will be the last phase we enter for a long time, since Phase 4, the last one, will only be possible when a vaccine or effective treatment is ready.
"As difficult as it is for the people who operate and work in those institutions, we could not figure out a way to do that safely," Baker said of people who work at bars and nightclubs, which remain part of Phase 4.
Phase 3 is being broken up into two steps. Here's what's in Step 1:
Phase 3, Step 1, Explained
Perhaps the most important change is that the maximum size of gatherings has increased. Indoor gatherings will be able to top out at 25 people in one room, though no more than eight people can be together in 1,000 square feet. And outdoor gatherings will be able to host 100 people at a time, but no more than 25% of the facility's capacity.
Here's what new businesses can reopen in Phase 3, joining restaurants, malls hair salons and dozens of other restaurants that were able to reopen in the prior phases:
- Movie theaters and performance venues working outdoors
- Museums and cultural and historical sites
- Gyms and health clubs
- Some indoor recreational activities that don't have much potential for high contact, like casino gaming floors
- Professional sports without spectators and following league-wide rules
Nevertheless, there will be restrictions on many of those activities, like caps on capacity -- 40% for gyms and movie theaters -- and timed-entry ticketing.
One other thing Baker noted would be allowed to operate in the first step of Phase 3: Boston's famous duck boats.
Additionally, nursing home and long-term care facility visitation guidelines being relaxed somewhat.
Here's where we stand on reopening Massachusetts overall:
What Businesses Have Already Opened in Massachusetts' Phases 1 and 2?
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 (indoor and 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 (50% maximum occupancy)
- 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
- Close-contact personal services like nail salons, massages and tattoo parlors
- Personal trainers