Gym Owner Defies Reopening Plan: New England Coronavirus News Roundup

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Here are some of the top coronavirus stories from around New England for Wednesday.


A gym owner in the town of Oxford said he's reopening his business in defiance of Gov. Charlie Baker's plan to gradually restart to economy.

Under Baker's plan gyms wouldn't be allowed to reopen for many weeks.

"We're going to do things in two simple phases, since faker Baker doesn't want to announce any of his,'' Dave Blondin, owner of Prime Fitness and Nutrition in Oxford, said in a Facebook post.

Fifty members will be allowed in the gym at a time -- 25 upstairs, 25 downstairs -- for up to one hour, he said.

The phased reopening outlined Monday by Baker is designed to guard against a resurgence of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Blondin also dismissed the wearing of masks, something Baker said helps limit the spread of the disease.

Please, for the love of God, do not wear a mask in here,'' he said. "I do not need people passing out because they cannot breathe.''

Boston will move cautiously to avoid a second shutdown as the state begins to reopen, Mayor Marty Walsh said at a Tuesday press conference.

"We will continue to be guided by fact-based science, and we will not take steps that put anyone at undue risk," Walsh said a day after Gov. Charlie Baker outlined a plan to gradually restart the economy.

Boston's mayor says we still need to work at home and stay at home as much as possible.

Walsh said he was leery about one part of the plan which would let Boston offices bring back workers at 25% capacity starting June 1.

 "I'm personally not comfortable with 25%,'' Walsh said. ``I think 25% the first day is too much.''

Walsh said he understands the economic hit to many businesses, but said the city can't afford a second shutdown if COVID-19 cases spike.


Gov. Ned Lamont and some eatery owners have said they will be wary of customers visiting from nearby sections of New York, where restaurants and other businesses remain closed.

 While infection rates have been declining, the southwestern part of the state was affected by an outbreak in the greater New York City area worse than any other in the country. Fairfield County has had 122 deaths associated with COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents, compared with 119 fatalities per 100,000 in Manhattan, according to state figures.

The wait is finally over. Businesses across the state are finally able to reopen their doors on Wednesday for the first time in two months, but there's no doubt things will look a lot different than they did before the coronavirus pandemic.

Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo said most people are looking forward to getting back at least a little sense of normalcy.

"There are varying degrees of concern about health," he said. "It's not just, 'Let's reopen and flip the switch.' But business owners are itching to open up and I think people are itching to get out and grab something to eat outside and maybe buy something from a vendor.''


Maine is letting private campgrounds reopen to state residents earlier than planned, effective this Friday, ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

But the state is delaying the reopening of indoor gyms and nail salons originally scheduled for June 1 based on new information about the transmission of the coronavirus.

Maine is assessing evidence and expects to announce new re-start dates for nail salons and fitness centers in early June. Gov. Janet Mills said the changes demonstrate that the administration is remaining flexible as it addresses the reopening of the economy.

Restaurants in 12 rural Maine counties were community transmission of COVID-19 is low were allowed to reopen Monday to dine-in customers.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is closing in on its goal to test all nursing home residents and staff for the coronavirus.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said May 6 that all nursing home residents would be tested within two weeks.

A department spokesman said that process will be completed early next week, which would be a few days behind schedule.

The testing of all staff is expected to be completed by the end of next week, or early in the following week.

The state also plans to set up a sentinel surveillance system in which 10% of the facilities will test 10% of their residents each week. 

Restaurants in New Hampshire were allowed to reopen Monday for outdoor seating only after weeks of being take-out amid the coronavirus shutdown.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island has introduced a smartphone app that state officials say could help public health workers trace the contacts of COVID-19 patients and connect them to testing and other resources.

The Crush Covid RI app unveiled Tuesday uses satellite-based GPS technology to track people's location if they opt into that feature.

Someone who then tests positive for the coronavirus can volunteer to share their 20-day location history with the public health department.

Rhode Island is at least the fourth U.S. state to roll out a location-tracking app designed to help fight the pandemic's spread.

Restaurants will reopen with strict rules allowing for outdoor dining only in Rhode Island and New Hampshire as Vermont begins reopening retail shops for the first time in nearly two months.


The owner of a Vermont fitness center who was ordered by a judge to close has moved the equipment outside into the parking lot and reopened as an outdoor facility.

The Vermont attorney general on Friday had sued Club Fitness of Vermont and owner Sean Manovill for staying open in violation of state rules and a judge hours later granted a temporary order barring it from operating.

Manovill says he reopened as an outdoor fitness center on Tuesday, saying the goal was for people to be able to continue to work out for their mental, physical and emotional health.

A debate is growing in Vermont on whether customers should be required to wear face coverings when stores reopen next week.

Associated Press/NBC
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