It’s official: Phase 3 of reopening Massachusetts starts Monday

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday that Phase 3 of the state’s reopening process will begin on Monday, July 6.

That applies to all of Massachusetts except Boston, where it will begin Monday, July 13, Baker said.

“We’ve continued to monitor public health data, specifically testing rate and daily hospitalizations,” Baker said Thursday. “The positive test rate remains at 1.4 percent, which is a 94 percent decrease since mid April.”

According to Baker, the city of Boston wanted an extra week to determine the city’s process for permitting events at outdoor spaces.

The Baker administration previously published details of Phase 3, which includes gyms, overnight camps, casinos, movie theaters, museums, performance venues, instructional classes and event spaces.

The plan, dubbed Vigilant, will come in two steps.

Key health metrics and advice from public health officials led the on-time start to phase 3 according to Baker.

“The success is due in no small part to the people of Massachusetts,” He said. “Please keep it up on the hand washing, the social distancing and the staying at home if you’re sick...We know that COVID-19 won’t be taking anytime off during the summer and we need to remain vigilant.”

On Tuesday, state health officials announced no new deaths from the novel coronavirus were reported. Meanwhile, 114 new cases have been reported.

Revised data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which identifies and removes duplicate reports, shows the actual number of confirmed and probable deaths related to COVID-19 is lower than what had previously been reported. The new total number of deaths is currently at 8,054. As for deaths among confirmed cases, the total number is 7,874.

“We must remain vigilant as long as this virus is here,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in remarks Thursday. “This is why we have named Phase 3: Vigilant.”

Phase 3 includes weddings, but they are prohibited from having bars and dance floors.

According to the newest report, 73 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported while 41 are considered probable cases.

So far, 1,066,060 molecular tests have been administered, while 842,960 people have been tested by molecular tests. 71,686 total people have been tested for antibodies.

Currently the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts is in Suffolk County.

Each phase takes as little as three weeks but if health data reveals a spike in key metrics, the state would put its reopening in reverse.

The overview steps are outlined below:

  • Phase 1 - Start: Limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions
  • Phase 2 - Cautious: Additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits
  • Phase 3 - Vigilant: Additional industries resume operations with guidance
  • Phase 4 - New Normal: Development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of ‘new normal’

Guidance from the Governor’s office on Phase 3

Step One of Phase III:

On May 18, the administration released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy based on public health data, spending at least three weeks in each phase. Key public health data, such as new cases and hospitalizations, have been closely monitored and has seen a decline allowing for Phase III to begin on July 6th. Phase III will begin on July 13th in Boston.

The public health dashboard designating the progress of key COVID-19 data metrics has been updated to reflect the number of COVID-19 patients in Massachusetts hospitals to green, indicating a positive trend.

Since mid-April, the 7-day average for the positive COVID-19 test rate is down 94 percent, the 3-day average of hospitalized patients is down 79 percent and the number of hospitals in surge is down 86 percent.

More than 1,000,000 total COVID-19 tests have been administered, and testing continues throughout the state.

The following businesses will be eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase III, subject to industry-specific rules concerning capacity and operations:

  • Movie theaters and outdoor performance venues;
  • Museums, cultural and historical sites;
  • Fitness centers and health clubs;
  • Certain indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact;
  • Professional sports teams, under the authority of league-wide rules, may hold games without spectators

Full guidance and list of businesses eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase III can be found at Businesses and sectors set to begin opening in Phase III are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards.

Revised Gatherings Order:

Under the updated gatherings order, indoor gatherings are limited to eight people per 1,000 square feet, but should not exceed 25 people in a single enclosed, indoor space.

Outdoor gatherings in enclosed spaces are limited to 25 percent of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy, with a maximum of 100 people in a single enclosed outdoor space. This includes community events, civic events, sporting events, concerts, conventions and more. This order does not apply to outdoor, unenclosed gatherings if proper social distancing measures are possible.

This revised order does not supersede previously issued sector guidance, and is effective beginning Monday, July 6. It will be effective Monday, July 13 in the City of Boston.

Public Health Guidance:

In Phase III, health care providers may continue to provide in-person procedures and services as allowed in Phase II, with the addition of certain group treatment programs and day programs. These programs include adult day health, day habilitation programs, and substance abuse services day treatment and outpatient services. Certain human services programs can reopen including community based day services for adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities and psychosocial rehabilitation clubhouses.

Health care providers are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards, and must continue to utilize prioritization policies established in Phase II for care delivery and scheduling, as well as monitor patient volume for non-essential, elective procedures and services.

Read the full guidance here.

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