Three months after shuttering their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants in Massachusetts are being allowed to reopen Monday as the state continues to ease restrictions as it seeks to safely reopen its economy.
Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday announced the state would enter the second step of Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which also allows for close-contact business such as nail salons and tattoo parlors to resume operations with safety precautions in place.
Restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor dining with parties of no more than six people per table and tables must be six feet apart. Customers must wear a mask when away from their table. Restaurant menus will be disposable and seating at bars is not allowed.
The loosened restrictions are part of the second step of Phase 2 of Massachusetts’s 4-phased reopening plan as the state eases more regulations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some restaurant owners, however, are saying Gov. Charlie Baker didn't give them enough notice to resume indoor dining Monday.
"It’s hard to get deliveries and stuff in on a Friday at 1 p.m. when the governor’s talking to get everything in," said John Caron, owner of West End Johnnie's. "Now everyone is going to scramble to get their orders in so we’ll get the orders in when they come in this week and proceed."
Baker's Friday announcement gave restaurant owners less than 72 hours to prepare for indoor dining, but Caron said he also understands that the governor is in a difficult position and trying to proceed with caution.
While Caron said he will be lucky if he can get his doors open by Friday after recently receiving approval for outdoor dining, Roger Berkowitz, CEO and president of Legal Sea Foods said he is not in a hurry.
"We're mindful that if this goes well potentially throughout the city and the state there won't be a second spike," Berkowitz said. "We're not going to rush it, we're not going to push it. We really just want to make sure we have our feet underground and underneath us and guests feel comfortable coming in."
The second step of Phase 2 includes increasing capacity at offices from 25% to 50%. Retailers will be able to open fitting rooms by appointment only.
"It’s hard to organize stuff on a weekend and we didn’t want to jump the gun," Caron said.
The decision comes as the state’s rate of positive coronavirus tests continues to decline.
"We're moving in the right direction as we continue our gradual reopening," Baker said at Friday's press briefing.
Restaurants were permitted to resume outdoor seating earlier this month. Restaurants have been limited to take out and delivery services since the pandemic hit back in March.
Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan includes reopening gyms, outdoor camps, museums and more. According to Baker, this will begin no later than July 6.
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 Will Reopen Monday, June 22, in Massachusetts?
Any business in Step 2 of Phase 2 will reopen Monday, June 22. That includes:
- Restaurants for indoor dining
- Close-contact personal services like nail salons, massages and tattoo parlors
- Personal trainers
What Businesses Are Still Closed in Massachusetts?
Any business in Phase 3 and 4 of the reopening plan is still required to stay closed. That includes:
- 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)
- Movie theaters (Phase 3 for moderate-capacity theaters, Phase 4 for large-capacity theaters)
- Gyms, fitness clubs and health clubs (Phase 3, with their saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs in Phase 4)
- 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)