Massachusetts enters Phase Four of reopening

Governor Charlie Baker announces the timeline for all remaining residents to be eligible for a vaccine during a press conference.

On Monday, March 22, the state of Massachusetts moved into Phase Four, Step One of its planned reopening. Many businesses are allowed to reopen, while others will have to wait until a later step in the Phase in order to open back up. Additionally, the Massachusetts COVID-19 travel order has been placed with a travel advisory.

Massachusetts moved to Phase Three, Step Two on March 1. Governor Baker announced this shift in the stage of the reopening along with the planned transition into Phase Four later in the month via press release on Feb. 25, 2021. 

In order to move to Phase Four, improved health metrics around the state had to continue, and COVID-19 cases had to continue to drop. 

Although the state had reached Phase Three, Step Two in October of 2020, the state was pushed backwards a step in December. This means this is the first time Massachusetts has reached Phase 4more than a year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. 

Several businesses have been allowed to reopen this month during Phase Three, Step Two. However, Phase Four brings even more reopening.

According to NBC Boston, indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks are able to open at 12 percent capacity once they have submitted a plan to the state Department of Public Health. TD Garden, Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park have all expressed that fans could return to their locations once Phase Four had begun.

Phase Four also brings the reopening of convention and exhibition halls, and dance floors at weddings and other events only. Indoor weddings will be allowed to have 100 guests, while outdoor weddings will be allowed 150 guests. Starting this summer, overnight camps will also be allowed to reopen. 

Private outdoor gatherings are still limited to 25 people, and indoor private gatherings continue to be limited to 10 people as well. 

However, just because Phase Four has begun doesn’t mean that the entire state of Massachusetts is reopening. On the contrary, Phase Four is being split up into several steps (similar to what occurred in previous phases), and certain businesses will be able to open at a later, but not yet determined date. 

According to CBS Boston, the following will not be able to open on March 22:

  • Bars and beer gardens that don’t serve food

  • Nightclubs and dance clubs

  • Street and agricultural festivals

  • Parades 

  • Amusement parks and theme parks

  • Water parks (indoor or outdoor)

  • Ball pits 

  • Road races and similar large, outdoor, group athletic events

  • Saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms at gyms and health clubs 

On Thursday, March 18, Governor Charlie Baker announced that along with the transition to Phase Four, the state has eliminated its travel order, and put in place a travel advisory.

Under the previous travel order, people who traveled from other states without an exemption were required to fill out a travel form. Upon return to Massachusetts, individuals were required to quarantine for 10 days, or provide a negative COVID-19 test. It was required that the test be administered up to 72 hours before the individual arrived.

The new travel advisory recommends that anyone who traveled outside of the state for more than 24 hours quarantine for 10 days, but a quarantine is not required. 

As of March 16, 2,671,928 people have received their first dose of the vaccine in Massachusetts, while 972,103 people in Massachusetts have been fully vaccinated.

Also on March 22, another round of Phase Two groups will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Those eligible include:

  • People aged 60 and older 

  • Restaurant or café workers

  • Grocery and convenience store workers

  • Agriculture and food service workers

  • Vaccine development workers

  • Food pantry workers and volunteers

  • Medical supply chain workers

  • Transportation workers

  • Sanitation workers

  • Public works and utility workers

  • Sanitation workers

  • Public health workers

  • Court system workers

  • Funeral workers

For more information regarding the reopening of Massachusetts, visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts

For information regarding the vaccine, visit: https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine

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