Boston Moving to Modified Version of State’s Reopening Plan

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Beginning Friday, Boston will move into a modified version of the state’s current phase of its reopening Massachusetts plan.

Boston will delay most of the state’s reopening guidance announced by the state on Tuesday by three weeks, in an effort to "accommodate the unique preparations needed by the city," according to a press release.

In late March the city announced that it would not move forward with additional reopening steps until the citywide positivity rate remained at or below 2.75 percent for two consecutive weeks -- it is currently at 3.6 percent. But the city is pointing to "improved trends in the positivity rate and other COVID-19 public health metrics," and thus they're forward with its reopening efforts.

As of April 20, 2021 (statistics from the city of Boston):

    • 33.1 percent of Bostonians are fully vaccinated;
    • 55.1 percent have received at least one dose.
    • The citywide community positivity rate continues to decrease, dropping to 3.6 percent, with three neighborhoods slightly above the 5.0 percent threshold (East Boston, Dorchester and Roslindale).
    • New positive tests in Boston decreased by 34 percent over the past week, averaging 144 new positive tests per day.
    • The percentage of available adult ICU beds remains stable, and the percentage of non-surge ICU beds continues to be below the city’s threshold.
    • Boston has had two reported deaths in the past week.

"In every aspect of Boston's reopening, we will take the right measures, at the right time, to protect our people and businesses,” said interim Mayor Kim Janey. “As we look ahead to better days, we must remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. Reopening our economy does not remove our personal and collective responsibility to remain vigilant. Thank you to all Bostonians for your continued efforts and cooperation as we reopen our city.”

Starting April 30, Boston will align with the state's updated Face Coverings Order -- that face coverings will be required at all times at indoor and outdoor venues and events, except when eating or drinking. Face coverings are recommended to be worn both inside and outside during small gatherings at private homes. Face coverings are not required outside in public spaces when individuals are able to remain at a safe distance from others.

Also starting April 30, public gatherings in Boston may increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors, which aligns with the state's plan. In the city, all private gatherings and events in private residences will remain at current capacity limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. But the public and private gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors on June 19 in Boston, which is three weeks after the higher limits go into effect in other parts of the Massachusetts.

Boston will follow the state's updated guidance for indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks, allowing capacity to increase to 25 percent starting May 10.

Boston's plan is to allow the following industries to reopen or resume June 1, subject to certain capacity limits and safety measures, which is three weeks after the state will allow for their reopening in other parts of the state:

  • Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events
  • Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments for moderate and high-risk sports
  • Singing indoors at performance venues, restaurants, event venues and other businesses, subject to the Commonwealth’s Theater and Performance Venue guidance

Boston will allow the following industries to reopen or resume starting June 19, which is also three weeks after the Commonwealth will allow for their reopening in other parts of the state:

  • Street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals, at 50 percent capacity
  • Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries for seated-service only, subject to a 90-minute table limit, and no dance floors.
  • Food will no longer be required with alcohol service, and 10 people can be seated at a table.

And if public health metrics support continued safe reopening in Boston, effective August 22, industry restrictions would be lifted, and 100 percent capacity will be allowed for all industries. That would be three weeks after the state would take those steps. Those remaining businesses include dance clubs and nightclubs, saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms, health clubs, and ball pits.

But all of this is subject to change based on evolving COVID-19 public health metrics. For more information about reopening in Boston, visit boston.gov/reopening. For more information about the state’s reopening plan, visit mass.gov/reopening.

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