SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Monday brings Massachusetts another step forward in its re-opening plan. It is the beginning of Phase 4, Step 2, which brings with it a few long-awaited changes to health and safety guidelines.
Amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks are allowed to open for the first time with up to 50% capacity. Road races and other large, outdoor events will also once again be allowed to take place.
Large venues, such as stadiums and ballparks, can also increase their capacity to 25%; up from 12%. Singing will also be allowed in indoor performance venues, restaurants, and other businesses.
The changes will take effect statewide, except in Boston, where Phase 4 Step 2 will be delayed until June 1. Fenway Park and the TD Garden will, however, be allowed to increase capacity starting Monday.
Another development in Phase 4 Step 2 is that grocery stores will no longer be required to hold designated senior shopping hours, however they are encouraged to continue the practice.
While theme parks will legally be allowed to open as of Monday, here in western Massachusetts, Six Flags New England is waiting until Friday to open for visitors.
Baker said on Monday that our COVID-19 data is way down. Since the beginning of March, our positive test rate has dropped by 45 percent and our hospitalizations have dropped 25 percent. Plus, this week the Commonwealth is expected to surpass three million people fully vaccinated.
Looking ahead to the next step, it will be another few weeks before the state opens up further. More restrictions will lift on May 29, as long as current case counts and statistics hold. That will allow gathering limits to increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.
Additionally, parades, street festivals and agricultural festivals can take place, and bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries will be allowed to open subject to restaurant rules, such as distance between tables, seated service only, and a 90-minute limit. Starting May 29, the requirement for restaurants to serve food with alcoholic beverages will be lifted.
Governor Baker is still urging all Massachusetts residents to get vaccinated, either make an appointment or walk into a mass vaccination site. Our ability to fully reopen by August 1st will depend on public health data and the number of people that decide to get vaccinated.