Boston set to enter new phase of reopening March 1

Marta Hill and Skye Richmond

Starting March 1, Boston will move into Step two of Phase III of Massachusetts’ reopening plan, instituting higher capacity limits for a number of industries, relaxed restrictions on restaurants and the reopening of some venues and activities. 

Under the new reopening guidelines, restaurants will not have capacity limits and are allowed to have live musical performances. Previously, restaurants operated under a 40% capacity limit in compliance with Massachusetts guidelines. Restaurants are still limited to six customers per table, and are required to implement six-foot social distancing and dining limits at 90 minutes maximum. 

Indoor venues, such as concert halls and theaters, will reopen at 50% capacity, with a maximum of 500 people. 

In a Feb. 25 press release, the office of Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the transition to Step two of Phase III is possible because of recent public health trends, including increased vaccination rates and a drop in daily COVID-19 cases.

“Since the beginning of this year, key public health data, such as new cases and hospitalizations, have been closely monitored and a significant decline has been documented, allowing for a return to Step 2 of Phase III, effective March 1 for all cities and towns,” the press release said.

The Baker-Polito administration released Boston’s four phase reopening plan May 18, 2020. According to the plan, Massachusetts will enter Step 1 of Phase IV on March 22, allowing previously closed businesses to open at limited capacity. Indoor and outdoor stadiums and arenas will be allowed to open at 12% capacity, and gathering-limited outdoor events will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. 

As of Feb. 25, the City of Boston reports 58,202 COVID-19 cases. As of Feb. 26, Northeastern reported a 7-day positive test average of 0.21%.