BOSTON — While many people in Massachusetts have been taking advantage of take-out and delivery for dinner and online shopping, a lot of people are excited to go out for the first time in months. Phase 2 of reopening Massachusetts starts today.
After Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Saturday the details of the two-step Phase 2, restaurant owners spent the weekend preparing to welcome customers back for outdoor dining only.
“Honestly I didn’t sleep all night,” said Frank DePasquale, owner of seven restaurants and cafes in Boston’s North End.
“I’m just so happy that we can finally see that light at the end of the tunnel. We’re ready to accommodate our customers."
In addition to outdoor seating, tables must be spaced at least 6 feet apart and each table can have up to six guests. Masks must be worn at all times, unless you are seated at a table.
Tables and chairs will be thoroughly sanitized between each seating.
Traditional menus are not allowed so restaurants must offer either single-use menus disposed after, a displayed menu on a whiteboard, chalkboard or digital, or electronic menus viewed on customers’ cellphones.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol should also be made available at entrances, exits, and in the dining area.
DePasquale said of his seven restaurants, only two have outdoor seating necessary to reopen Monday – and he’s not alone.
The Massachusetts Restaurant Association told the Boston Herald that only 20% of Bay State restaurants have outdoor seating.
In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh has discussed the possibility of closing down certain streets to allow tables to be set up on sidewalks and in the road. He has not yet acted on his idea.
“They’re looking into sidewalk seating or even partial street seating, and so our urge is to try to get that going as fast as possible,” DePasquale said.
Restaurants that don’t have outdoor space available will have to wait until step 2 of Phase 2 to reopen, when people will be allowed to dine inside.
No date for step 2 of Phase 2 has been announced.
“We’re ready to go,” DePasquale. “Our staff is excited, I’m excited, and we’re hoping to get back to the old norm.”
Retail shops are also reopening for the first time since March, and the biggest thing shoppers will notice is stores will limit the number of people allowed inside at once.
Retailers can operate at 40% capacity and one-way aisles will be in place where possible.
If customers have to wait outside there will be markers on the ground 6 feet apart to ensure social distancing is being followed.
Shoppers won’t be able to sample food or apply goods such as makeup or lotion. Dressing rooms will not be open, so customers can’t try on clothes at the store.
“It’s going to be a different experience particularly for a type of store where there has been a lot of close customer interaction,” said Jon Hurst, president of Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
For employees, their break times will be staggered. Cash registers will be sanitized every time a different worker uses it. Both employees and customers will have to wear a mask.
On Newbury Street, some of the businesses might not be able to open, after many of those stores were vandalized following last week’s riots.
Other businesses that can reopen on June 8, with contingencies:
- Child care facilities and day camps, with detailed guidance (answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.)
- Hotels and other lodgings, no events, functions or meetings
- Warehouses and distribution centers
- Personal services without close physical contact, such as home cleaning, photography, window washing, career coaching and education tutoring
- Post-secondary, higher education, vocational-tech and occupation schools for the purpose of completing graduation requirements
- Youth and adult amateur sports, with detailed guidance
- Outdoor recreation facilities
- Professional sports practices, no games or public admissions
- Non-athletic youth instructional classes in arts, education or life skills and in groups of less than 10
- Driving and flight schools
- Outdoor historical spaces, no functions, gatherings or guided tours
- Funeral homes, with occupancy limits
- Health care - in-person elective, non-urgent procedures and services including office visits, dental visits and vision care
Visits to health care and human service facilities or residential settings, with limitations, will also resume this week:
June 10 - Hospitals, ambulatory care (office visits), adult residential congregate care/group homes
June 15 - Holyoke Soldiers’ Home (as long as infection rates continue to remain stable)
June 30 - Child residential congregate care/group homes
See the reopening guidance for more on visitation guidelines here.
More businesses will be eligible to reopen in the second step of phase 2 - at a later date to be determined, including:
- Indoor table service at restaurants
- Close-contact personal services, with restrictions, including:
- Hair removal and replacement
- Nail care
- Skin care
- Massage therapy
- Makeup salons and makeup application services
- Tanning salons
- Tattoo, piercing and body art services
- Personal training, with restrictions
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