BOSTON (WHDH) – Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that the second part of Phase 2 of the state’s four-phase reopening plan will begin Monday, including the resumption of indoor dining and added office capacity.
“Today, thanks to the progress that we’re making with fighting the virus, step two will begin on Monday, June 22,” Baker said during a news conference at the State House. “That means that a number of additional businesses may resume operations, including indoor dining at restaurants, and offices are permitted to go from 25 percent occupancy to 50 percent of their capacity.”
The following businesses and sectors will be eligible to reopen on Monday:
Indoor table service at restaurants — with limitations
Close-contact personal services — with restrictions
Retail dressing rooms — by appointment only
Offices — at 50 percent capacity
Before these sectors can resume operations under Baker’s reopening guidelines, businesses must meet all safety standards, create a COVID-19 control plan, and complete a self-certification.
While the office capacity limit is being boosted, Baker urged employers to continue to allow their employees to work from home for as long as possible.
“For densely populated areas, specifically Greater Boston, if people can keep teleworking, that would obviously keep crowds off the MBTA for a little longer,” Baker said. “To the extent that companies can continue to support their workers as they work remotely, we highly encourage them to do so.”
Baker did note that the MBTA has been working hard to adjust schedules and heighten cleaning protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus but he stressed that the best way to prevent transmission is to minimize the gathering of people in close quarters.
“It’s not easy for many to work from home, especially with kids and other distractions, but it’s incredibly helpful in reducing the spread of COVID,” Baker said.
When Phase 2 launched on June 8, restaurants were permitted to welcome guests back for outdoor dining. Starting Monday, they will be required to strictly limit indoor table service in order to assure effective compliance with social distancing requirements and to limit activities within confined space, according to Baker.
Tables must be positioned to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from all other tables, party sizes cannot exceed six people, and bar seating will not be allowed, among other restrictions.
“We are excited to welcome guests back into our restaurants for the first time in 97 days. However the challenge for restaurants still remains daunting as we will have restricted seating levels. In order to assist restaurants, we encourage guests to visit early in the week to support the restaurant community. Please consider making Monday-Wednesday the new Saturday for restaurants,” MRA President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Luz wrote in a statement.
Puritan and Company in Cambridge is ready to reopen on Monday and owner Will Gilson said he’s been working for weeks to make his restaurant safe.
“I really think that today’s announcement helps us at least understand a little of the road ahead,” he said.
This restaurant is considering ending tipping, and going to a service fee to help pay for personal protective equipment for employees and cover reduced revenues due to fewer guests.
The daily positive coronavirus test rate has fallen by 92 percent since the height of the outbreak and hospitalizations have dipped below 1,000, allowing the state to move forward with Phase 2, Baker said. He also said that all state hospitals have moved out of “surge capacity” mode.
“The progress is very encouraging and proves we’re moving in the right direction as we continue to reopen,” Baker stated.
Baker asked all residents to continue to practice distancing, wear face coverings, and maintain good hygiene habits.