BOSTON (CBS) — Teams like the Bruins and Celtics who’ve been playing for an empty audience are finally prepared to welcome fans back as soon as next week. Massachusetts will move to Phase 4, Step 1 of its reopening plan on Monday, March 22.
“I’m all for it,” said Moses Martinez who works near the Boston Garden. “I’m excited for the neighborhood to reopen. It needs to reopen.”READ MORE: Moving Truck 'Storrowed' Near Mass General, Causing Traffic Delays
Hard-hit businesses surrounding the Garden need the boost. Restaurants that have survived, like New York Shawarma Guys, hope fans breathe new life into the area. “We’re so excited,” said owner Faez Al-Handen. “We hope everything is back to normal, get some business, you know.”
Steve DeFillippo, owner of Davio’s Restaurant, is preparing to open his ballroom for weddings. He said more and more people are getting vaccinated and feeling safer about going out.
“As soon as the law changed, the phone has just rung off the hook. It’s just so exciting,” DeFillippo said. “I think we’re doing great. I think we’re doing really well. I can tell we’re doing well because the restaurant is so changed. We’re so much busier. The reservations are coming in like crazy. Weekends are just sold out.”READ MORE: COVID Vaccine Mandate Ordered For All Nursing Home Workers In Massachusetts
But 29 organizations sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker, pleading for him to delay the reopening steps taking effect Monday, by at least four weeks. “We’re concerned that there’s the possibility of a fourth wave of the pandemic just as we’re about to see that light that we all need at the end of the tunnel,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, which drafted the letter.
Starting March 22, Massachusetts moves into the next phase of reopening. Large sports venues can open at 12 percent capacity. Overnight camps get the green light, along with convention halls, and dance floors at weddings and events.
“We constantly go back and look at what we’ve done and think about it as we look forward,” Governor Charlie Baker told WBZ Political Analyst Jon Keller. “The idea that this process isn’t an iterative one, is just wrong. We’re constantly talking to people about this.”
“It’s possible to pick and choose who you’re listening to,” said Pavlos. “The calls that we’re making are really informed by what we’re hearing from Dr. Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Wollensky.” This week the CDC urged states to reconsider rolling back restrictions.MORE NEWS: Museum 'Flabbergasted' When Oliver The Snake Lays Eggs
In Massachusetts, the number of communities in the high-risk red zone on the state’s color-coded map of virus rates increased for the first time in weeks. There are currently 20 red towns.