NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Baker Polito Administration announced last week that, after showing consistently low COVID-19 positive testing rates, some restrictions will be loosened for local restaurants starting Monday.
Beginning Monday, restaurants can start hosting groups of 10 people to a table which is an increase from just six people in a party. That applies to both indoor and outdoor dining, but outdoor dining is still encouraged for as long as possible.
Tables must still remain at least six feet apart from each other, and not be close to the bartending area.
“While bars remain closed in Massachusetts, restaurants with bar seating can now use that seating with the right distance measures in place,” said Baker last week.
Restaurants will also be allowed to use restaurant bar seating for customers, with proper social distancing and plexiglass separating the bartender from customers.
Governor Baker said that people should still not be standing around at any restaurants, and crowding the bar areas. Customers must wear a face covering at all times, unless seated at a table.
“I’ve been going to restaurants outdoors with my family and I’ve really enjoyed being able to go back out do a little bit of a normal life,” said Isaac Luria of Northampton.
Luria has been taking advantage of the outdoor seating in recent months, but has concerns about expanded capacity limits indoors, “I think that everything that we are seeing in the science shows that indoor seating is one of the key drivers to the virus. So I think indoor bars, in particular, being in close proximity to folks but as long as we can keep people outdoors I think that would be just fine.”
Bars that don’t sell food and night clubs are part of phase 4, and cannot reopen until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.
However, not every town is accepting the new measures. Worcester and Framingham have opted out, keeping only six people to a table, and bar seating closed for the time being.