By Isabela Rocha
Boston University News Service
BOSTON – From the New England Aquarium to hair salons, some indoor businesses are now allowed to operate at a 50 percent capacity as part of Massachusetts’ most recent reopening plan that began on March 1.
Boston’s Public Schools have also opened for in-person learning to students between pre-kindergarten and third grade as part of the city’s effort to get students back in the classroom.
Indoor dining at restaurants will have no limit on seating capacity, though tables must be six feet apart and cannot hold more than six people at a time, according to the city of Boston website.
Retail stores can now open their fitting rooms to customers. Outdoor performance venues with a capacity of 5,000 people or less are allowed to operate, but they are limited to 500 people at a time — even if that limit is lower than 50 percent of the venue’s total capacity.
High-priority students in Boston Public Schools — which include children experiencing homelessness, those under the care of the Department of Children and Families and students with certain disabilities — are eligible for everyday in-person learning, according to a press release from the Office of the Superintendent. All other pre-K and third-grade students will resume in-person classes under a rotational system.
Unlike the state, the City of Boston will keep indoor performance venues and indoor recreational activities with greater potential for contact – such as laser tag and obstacle courses – closed until at least March 22, when the state will move to the next phase of reopening. Live musical performances in restaurants are also not allowed, at least until that date.
“We follow carefully the local case data and public health guidance and we take an approach that fits our unique qualities as a large, mostly dense city,” Mayor Marty Walsh said at a March 1 press conference.
Walsh also asked that residents and businesses respect the City’s health advisories on St. Patrick’s Day. He said that the city would maintain the capacity, spacing and time limits and prohibit alcoholic beverages from being served without food service or lines to be formed outside of restaurants.
Boston has a total of 58,901 coronavirus cases and 1,273 deaths as of March 1, according to the City’s website.
Phase 4 of Massachusetts’ reopening is planned to begin on March 22, but Walsh said the city would only move forward if it is safe to do so, given the number of cases and public health guidance data at that time.
Boston’s Public Schools plan to expand in-person learning to students between fourth and eighth grade on March 15 and March 18 and to students between ninth and twelfth grade on March 29 and April 1.