REOPENING MA: State moving forward with reopening plan, Boston to follow with exceptions

BOSTON — As vaccination efforts continue and COVID-19 data shows consistent signs of improvement, Governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday more in the state’s reopening plan. Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday that the city will move in Phase 3, Step 2 effective Monday, Mar. 1, with some exceptions. Additionally, the City of Boston plans to transition to Step 1 of Phase 4 with the rest of the Commonwealth on Monday, Mar. 22, dependent on public health metrics.


Effective March 1, Massachusetts will move forward into Phase 3, Step 2. This will reopen:

  • Indoor performance venues such as concert halls, theaters, and other indoor performance spaces (Open at 50% capacity with 500 person max) - NOTE: This does not apply in Boston until Mar. 22
  • Indoor recreational activities with greater potential for contact: laser tag, roller skating, trampolines, obstacle courses (Open at 50% capacity) - NOTE: This does not apply in Boston until Mar. 22

Also effective March 1, the following will increase to 50% capacity:

  • Arcades & other indoor and outdoor recreation businesses
  • Close contact personal services
  • Driving and flight schools
  • Fitness centers and health clubs
  • Golf facilities (indoor)
  • Libraries
  • Operators of lodging (common spaces)
  • Museums, cultural & historic facilities, guided tours
  • Office spaces
  • Places of worship
  • Sectors not otherwise addressed
  • Theaters and performance venues
  • Relevant EEA industries – Youth sports spectators, etc.

The following industries remain unaffected by capacity limits:

  • Drive-in movie theaters
  • Construction
  • Laboratories
  • Manufacturing

On March 1, Baker says restaurants will no longer be subject to a % seated capacity limit; capacity will only be limited by the requirement of 6-feet in between tables.

  • Musical performances allowed in restaurants (with appropriate distancing)
  • 90-minute time limit on tables - stays in place
  • Limit of no more than 6 per table - stays in place
  • Food courts - remain closed

However, the City of Boston will not allow live musical performances in restaurants until Mar. 22.

Fitting rooms in all retail businesses may reopen on March 1.

Baker is also expected to announce changes to gathering limits, effective March 22:

Event Venues and Public Settings:

  • 100 indoor
  • 150 outdoor

Private Settings (such as private residences):

  • 10 indoors
  • 25 outdoors


Effective March 22, and subject to state health data, Massachusetts will move into Phase 4, Step 1:

Indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks will reopen with a 12% capacity limit:

  • A large venue is defined as having a capacity of 5,000 or more
  • Venues with capacity under 5,000 are subject to the Indoor and Outdoor Performance Venue guidance
  • Large venues will be required to submit a safety plan to the Department of Public Health
  • Overnight camps will be allowed to open for Summer 2021
  • Exhibition and convention halls may reopen, subject to gathering limits and event rules
  • Dance floors may open at weddings and events only

All other Phase 4 industries will not be able to open until a future reopening step. Those include:

  • Road races, street festivals, and parades, and fairs
  • Amusement parks, theme parks, outdoor water parks
  • Indoor water parks and indoor/outdoor ball pits
  • Saunas, hot-tubs, steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs, and other facilities
  • Beer gardens/ breweries/ wineries/ distilleries
  • Bars, dance clubs, and nightclubs—venues offering entertainment, beverages, or dancing and not providing seated food service

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