By Louisa Moller

BOSTON (CBS) – The Director of the Centers for Disease Control cautioned against relaxing coronavirus restrictions one day after Governor Charlie Baker announced Massachusetts would ease capacity restrictions and allow fans to return to sports venues.

“We may be done with the virus but clearly the virus is not done with us,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the former head of infectious disease for Massachusetts General Hospital said, “We cannot get comfortable or give into a false sense of security that the pandemic is behind us. Not now. Not when mass vaccination is so very close.”

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After a dramatic fall in COVID-19 cases since a high in January, Walensky said the nation is experiencing a slight uptick. Cases of the highly contagious variant of the virus that originated in the UK are also on the rise.

“Our estimates now indicate that B117 accounts for approximately 10 percent of cases in the United States,” Walensky said.

Two new variants have been discovered recently in California and in New York City. The New York variant carries a mutation that could make vaccines less effective, the New York Times reported.

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Walenksy’s warning comes as businesses in the Commonwealth got a glimmer of hope from Governor Baker. For the first time since last March, the Regent Theatre in Arlington can now consider having 120 patrons in its Vaudeville era seats.

“We can make a go of it with smaller capacity. As long as that’s not for the long term,” Regent co-owner Leland Stein said.

Comedian Jimmy Tingle said nearly everyone in his industry is eager to return to live performing.

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“There’s nothing like performing for a live audience, providing it’s safe,” Tingle said.

Louisa Moller