Face coverings will no longer be required outside where social distancing is possible beginning on Friday, and restrictions on all businesses, including capacity limits, will be lifted on Aug. 1, Governor Charlie Baker announced on Tuesday.
“The light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the hard work of so many, is getting closer, and we can start to look ahead with real optimism for the path forward,” Baker said in a press conference announcing the remainder of the Commonwealth’s reopening timeline.
Face coverings will still be required indoors in all public places, Baker said.
“Since January, the Commonwealth has seen several positive trends in the public health metrics that we monitor with respect to COVID, cases have fallen, hospitalizations have dropped, and we continue to be a national leader in the distribution of vaccines,” Baker said.
Boston will follow a modified version of the state’s reopening plan, Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced Tuesday following Baker’s announcement. The outdoor mask mandate in Boston will be lifted along with the rest of the Commonwealth on Friday, while most of the other restrictions will be lifted three weeks after the remainder of the state, Janey said.
Large indoor and outdoor stadiums in Boston and in Massachusetts, such as Fenway, Gillette, and TD Garden, can increase capacity from 12 percent to 25 percent on May 10, according to Baker.
Amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor waterparks can operate at 50 percent capacity beginning May 10 after submitting a safety plan to the Department of Public Health.
Road races and other large outdoor events will be permitted in Massachusetts beginning on May 10, according to Baker. These events will be permitted in Boston on June 1, according to Janey, signalling that the Boston Athletic Association’s plans to hold the 125th Boston Marathon on Oct. 11 can move forward. The return of the race follows two years without a traditional in-person marathon held in April.
Events and tournaments for youth and adult amateur high-risk sports that require close proximity or contact will also be permitted on this day, according to Baker.
Beginning on May 29, the gathering limit will be raised to allow 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors for public and private events. Street festivals and parades will be permitted to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Street festivals in Boston can resume at 50 percent capacity beginning June 10, along with bars, beers, and breweries with 90-minute table limits, according to Janey. Beginning on June 19, the capacity for indoor gatherings will increase to 200 people and 250 for outdoor gatherings in the city.
All remaining industries will be permitted to open at full capacity in Massachusetts beginning Aug. 1, including the opening of dance clubs, nightclubs, saunas, fitness centers, ball pits, and indoor water parks, as supported by public health data.
“We hope that with more vaccines and a continued success at stopping COVID we can take this step earlier, but it will depend on everyone continuing to get vaccinated and doing the right things,” Baker said.
Improvements in public health data, including new daily cases dropping by 20 percent and the average seven-day positivity rate dropping by about half a percentage point, are what has allowed the Commonwealth to move into Step 2 of Phase 4 of its reopening plan, according to Baker.
Over two million people have been fully vaccinated in Massachusetts, and Baker said the state has the capacity to increase vaccinations as federal supply increases.
“All this progress toward getting people back to normal has been made possible because of everyone’s commitment to stop the spread of COVID and lining up to get a vaccine when it is their turn,” Baker said.
Featured Image by Johnathan Ye / Heights Senior Staff