City, Coronavirus, News

Baker rolls reopening back to Phase Three, Step One

All Massachusetts communities will return to Phase Three, Step One of reopening on Sunday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday, as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

In a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Massachusetts communities will return to Phase Three, Step One of the state’s reopening plan starting Sunday. POOL CAMERA

Baker had allowed lower-risk communities to move into Phase Three, Step Two of reopening Oct. 5.

Baker said at a press conference Tuesday that the rollback is necessary to keep hospitals below capacity.

“With our hospital systems straining to keep up with the sharp increase in severely ill patients, we have to do more,” Baker said.

Eleven Massachusetts hospitals are at 90-percent capacity or more, according to Baker. Hospitals are facing a shortage of critical staff, he added, because many are in quarantine.

Hospitals will begin postponing elective procedures Friday to reduce the demand for hospital beds, Baker said.

Outdoor event venues will be limited to 50 people, down from the 100 people allowed in Step Two. Hosts will also need to notify their local board of health if they plan an outdoor gathering of more than 25 attendees.

Indoor performance venues will need to close, and outdoor performance venues must operate at 25-percent capacity and with no more than 50 people.

Gyms, places of worship, offices, lodging and retail stores will all operate at 40-percent capacity, down from 50 percent. Recreation facilities such as movie theaters and museums will also need to reduce capacity to 40 percent.

The Commonwealth added restrictions for restaurants, which include requiring patrons to wear masks when not eating or drinking, limiting tables to six people with a 90-minute time limit for each party and prohibiting live music.

Office employees must also wear masks when not alone in their workspace, and gym patrons must wear masks at all times.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said at the press conference residents should be hopeful for the end of the pandemic, but must take these measures to protect each other now. 

“There is a light at the end of this tunnel,” Polito said. “It feels different than when we were at the beginning of this pandemic, especially with the vaccine.”

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