BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts announced on Wednesday that lower risk communities will be allowed to move into Step 2 of Phase 3 in the state’s coronavirus reopening plan as of October 5.
Lower risk communities are defined as cities and towns that have not been listed as “red” for the last three weeks on the Department of Public Health’s risk map.
“The activities we’re moving forward with today have not led to significant transmission in other states,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.
Fitting rooms can reopen at all retail stores.
In Step 2 of Phase 3, indoor performance venues can open with 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people. Outdoor performance venues can increase to 50% capacity, also with a 250-person limit. Baker said the guidance does not address venues like stadiums or arenas.
Gyms, museums, libraries, driving and flight schools can increase capacity to 50%.
In addition, recreation businesses can reopen activities like trampolines, obstacle courses, roller rinks, and laser tag.
The state’s limit for private indoor gatherings remains at a maximum of 25 people.
Outdoor gatherings at event venues and public spaces will be limited to 50 people for Step 1 cities and towns, and 100 people for those moving to Step 2.
Baker said the majority of clusters in Massachusetts have been from private gatherings.
“Very, very few examples of significant spread have occurred in organized, structured, rule-based settings. Most of our new cases – most of our clusters – have involved unstructured, non-rule-based gathering,” said Baker. “If people are going to go inside, which they probably will, I would much rather have them go inside in organized and supervised ways, with rules, than in unorganized, unsupervised ways with no rules.”
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said if a community becomes red again for three straight reports, it will have to move back to Phase 3, Step 1.
“It is important that we reopen our economy and support our local businesses,” Polito said.
Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Mike Kennealy said this is a critical time to support local businesses.
“Our Main Streets need you now more than ever, but remember to do your part to make those visits as safe as possible,” said Kennealy.
WBZ-TV’s Kristina Rex reports
For some indoor venues, it is too late to save the 2020 season.
“We hold as you see 1,500 people, 250 people which is the max wouldn’t really support the financial cost of putting a show on in this massive theater,” said Bill Hanney owner of the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly. “We don’t bring shows in on a bus and a truck. We make them here. Plus 250 people in this big room would look horrible.”
The reopening announcement comes the same day that a group of dozens of doctors, lawmakers and community leaders sent the governor a letter calling for more measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
“In just the last few days we’ve seen really concerning actions by the governor,” State Rep. Mike Connolly said. “Yesterday indoor dining was expanded and certain restrictions on indoor dining were lifted.”
“We really have to focus guidelines and policies on conforming and containing our outbreaks in those high risk settings,” Dr. Caroline Buckee said. “Those include things like indoor dining, restaurants, bars.”