A curfew that obliges restaurants and most other businesses to close by 9:30 p.m. will lift on Monday, but the coronavirus-hit industries will have to live with a 25% customer capacity cap for another two weeks, announced Governor Charlie Baker .
“Vaccines reach the residents, positive case rates have stabilized. These trends are moving in the right direction. Because of this, we believe it is time and it is okay to gradually relax the restrictions we have put in place, “Baker said during his regular coronavirus briefing at the State House on Thursday.
The easing of restrictions is welcome news for business owners who hope to continue to follow progress on the reopening in the coming weeks.
“Giving guests more time to enjoy time away from home in a monitored, regulated, and proven safe environment is a huge step away from unregulated private gatherings. We also look forward to increasing our capacity soon, ”said Bob Luz of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.
Restaurants, gyms, casinos, offices, churches, libraries, cinemas, arcades, golf courses, museums, and most other businesses were forced to reduce capacity to 25% of its maximum on December 26th in response to state regulators following holiday gatherings with coronavirus numbers had sent exploding.
Baker said the decision led many to refer to him as “Scrooge on social media” but added that curbing businesses appears to be working.
“Today, three weeks after 2021, our public health data is trending in a better direction in some categories, such as hospital stays and the percentage of positive COVID cases for the first time in a long time,” said Baker.
The order cut, which limits store capacity to 25%, expires February 8th unless Baker extends it.
The stricter rules were supposed to last just two weeks, but were extended for another 14 days as the state saw an increase in hospital stays and case numbers, which, however, spurred Christmas and New Year gatherings.