Many Massachusetts businesses are wondering how they’ll survive the winter, between the apparent lack of stimulus funding from the federal government and some communities rolling back reopening amid a surge in cases.
Boston's gyms, theaters, museums, indoor entertainment facilities and many others are required to shut down Wednesday as the city and some of its neighbors, like Newton and Brockton, revert to a modified form of Phase 2, Step 2 of the Massachusetts reopening plan.
All are hoping they will be able to re-open in three weeks -- the amount of time Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the rollback would last -- and that government relief comes soon.
When Omar Argote, the owner of Mike’s Fitness in Jamaica Plain, heard the news, he couldn't believe it was happening again. He'd already invested in his gym.
"We added more cleaning stations … all of the locker rooms are touchless, the sinks, everything, so we spent a lot of money," Argote said.
He worries about his employees too: "Are they going to come back? When will we reopen?"
Argote has been trying to notify his members as quickly as possible that he will be closed as of Wednesday, and those members aren’t happy.
"Some people don’t drink, they don’t go to bars. This is our getaway," said one member, who gave his name as George. "Liquor stores stay open, retail is staying open, why can’t we work out with the masks on?"
Walsh admitted in an interview that he's "gotten some pushback" on stepping back in the Massachusetts reopening plan, but said the move isn't about punishing any particular industry, it's about stopping the concerning rise in coronavirus metrics in Boston.
"It’s about the numbers of infections were seeing in the city of Boston. Quite honestly, it’s about hospitalization," Walsh said.
Indoor dining remains permitted under Phase 2, Step 2, though bar service isn't without special permission.
Ken Oringer, the restaurateur behind Little Donkey, Toro and other local establishments, said he worries about the 15 million people impacted by restaurant restrictions nationwide.
And the James Beard award-winning chef said it will only get worse heading into winter -- outdoor dining has been banned on public sidewalks and streets since the start of the month.
"We got no help from the feds, no help from the local government," he said.
Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker have repeatedly called for the federal government to do more to support individuals and small businesses as the pandemic stretches on.