Governor Baker Eases Certain COVID-19 Restrictions on Reopenings, Gatherings, Masks

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On April 27, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a timetable for reopening (or increasing capacity) of businesses starting on May 10, with additional easing of restrictions planned for May 29 and August 1.  The Governor also established a new timetable for easing the limits on public gatherings, and effective April 30, rescinded the outdoor mask mandate in circumstances where social distancing is possible.

While this announcement relaxes a number of existing restrictions, it does not lift the ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency.  The Governor also emphasized that all of the proposed dates for easing restrictions are subject to change subject to public health and vaccination data.

Business Reopening

Effective May 10, 2021, the Massachusetts reopening plan will begin moving to “Phase 4, Step 2.”  Indoor and outdoor stadiums and ballparks currently open at 12% capacity will be allowed to increase to 25% capacity. Amusement parks and outdoor water parks will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.  

Effective May 29, 2021, bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries will be allowed to reopen, subject to restaurant rules and with seated service only.  Restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol without food, and to increase table sizes to 10 patrons.  Outdoor festivals and parades will be allowed at 50% of their prior capacity.

Effective August 1, 2021, subject to public health and vaccination data (and perhaps sooner), all industry restrictions will be lifted and 100% capacity will be allowed.  The remaining Phase 4, Step 2 industries will be allowed to reopen, including dance clubs, health clubs, and indoor water parks.

Gathering

Effective May 10, 2021, road races and other “large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events,” will be allowed after submitting safety plans to the Department of Public Health, as will youth and amateur sports tournaments, and indoor singing. 

Effective May 29, 2021, gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings and private settings.

Effective August 1, 2021, subject to public health and vaccination data (and perhaps sooner), all gathering limits will be rescinded.

Masks

Effective April 30, 2021, outdoor masking in public settings will only be required if social distancing is not possible. 

There is no change to the existing requirements for indoor masking in public settings (except when eating or drinking) or for masking at outdoor events (except when eating or drinking).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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