BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts will enter Phase 3 of its coronavirus reopening plan on Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday.
That means movie theaters, gyms, fitness centers, casinos, museums and outdoor performance venues will be able to open starting July 6. Professional sports teams will also be allowed to have games but without fans.
However, Baker’s office said Phase 3 won’t begin in Boston until Monday, July 13.
“It was very uplifting,” said Carolyn Veasey Jackson, co-owner of Cedardale Health & Fitness in Haverhill. “We were all very excited.
She said the gym has been closed for almost four months and has had to layoff most of its employees. Veasey Jackson said the staff has been preparing for Phase 3 for the last several weeks, spacing out equipment and adding hand sanitizer.
“We’re not going to rush into it, so we may take a few extra days, to make sure that everything’s in place, and that we’re confident that we can open up the right way,” Veasey Jackson said.
There will also be a second step of Phase 3, Baker said, though he did not elaborate on what would be included in that part. The governor said Phase 3 will last “significantly longer” than previous phases.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said she believes casinos will likely activate their workforce and start training them Monday, and open for guests about a week later. Encore Boston Harbor said it would reopen on Sunday, July 12. MGM Springfield plans to reopen Monday, July 13. Plainridge Park Casino, the state’s only slot parlor, announced it will be reopening on Wednesday, July 8.
Fitness centers and gyms will be required to keep occupancy under 40%, sanitize equipment between use, and require face coverings.
Wedding and party venues will be allowed to reopen, but they must keep their bars and dance floors closed, keep guests in groups no larger than six people, and limit occupancy.
“Please keep it up on the face coverings, the handwashing, the social distancing, and the staying at home if you’re sick,” said Baker.
Guidance for indoor gatherings has also been updated. They will be limited to eight people per 1,000 square feet, but should not include more than 25 people in a single enclosed indoor space.
Group treatment programs and therapeutic day programs will be allowed to reopen. At long term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living residences, visitation guidelines will be updated in Phase 3.
More information on Step One of Phase 3 can be found at mass.gov/reopening.
The state is currently in Phase 2, Step 2, which allowed indoor dining and close personal services such as nail salons to resume business. That portion of the reopening plan began on June 22.
Bars and nightclubs will remain in Phase 4 for Massachusetts, which means they will not be allowed to reopen until there are therapeutics or a vaccine.
“The primary driver of much of the significant increase in positive tests in a number of states has been the reopening of bars and nightclubs,” Baker told reporters at his daily briefing Thursday. “And obviously bars and nightclubs are sitting in Phase 4 under our guidance.”
Baker had previously said he wanted to see two weeks of indoor dining data before he decided if the state would move forward to Phase 3.
“Today the public health data makes clear that Massachusetts is effectively bringing the fight to the virus, as we’ve reopened,” Baker said.