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Massachusetts Enters Phase III Monday Except Boston; Will Not Enter Phase IV Without Treatment or Vaccine [COVID-19 Weekly Update]

There were seven new COVID-19 cases this week in the Downtown, North End, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay neighborhoods, according to the Boston Public Health Commission’s weekly report through July 1st. The total number of cases for the downtown neighborhoods stands at 486, a rate of 87.2 per 10,000 residents.

Citywide, there were 175 new cases reported this week with 13,514 total cases, according to Boston’s COVID-19 case tracking dashboard.  The total number of deaths stand at 711 with six new deaths this week, marking an approximately 45% decrease in new deaths from last week where there were eleven new deaths. Currently, 9,484 patients have recovered from the virus.

Governor Charlie Baker announced on Thursday, July 2nd, that Massachusetts would be entering into Phase III of it’s reopening plan on Monday, July 6th. However, Boston will not enter Phase III until Monday, July 13th.

Under Phase III, businesses such as gyms, museums, and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen as long as strict new guidelines are adhered to. It will also allow professional sport teams to have games without spectators.

“Phase III contains some bigger players that will certainly draw more people into indoor settings with respect to various activities like movie theaters and museums,” stated Governor Baker during a press conference on Thursday. “Medical evidence continues to say that COVID has much higher risk of spreading indoors and enclosed spaces than it does in outdoor spaces.”

Like Phase II, this next phase will occur under a two-step schedule. Only outdoor movie theaters are allowed to reopen in the first half of the Phase III reopening with indoor movie theaters falling under the second half. Indoor recreation such as batting cages or rock-climbing walls can reopen during Step 1 but activities such as roller skating or laser tag cannot reopen until Step 2. For a full list of businesses reopening in Phase III, visit here.

Governor Baker stated that Phase III would last “significantly longer” than the previous phases in order to closely monitor it’s impact on public health safety. Currently, bars and nightclubs remain in the state’s Phase IV of reopening. According to Governor Baker, the only way that the Commonwealth will enter the final phase of reopening would be alongside therapeutics or a vaccine.

“We could not figure out a way to do that safely,” said Governor Baker regarding the reopening of bars and nightclubs.

Massachusetts currently has 109,338 total positive and presumptive cases according to the most recent data with 104,016 being confirmed positive cases and 5,322 being probable cases. There were 1,268 new COVID-19 cases reported this week with 323 of those being probable cases. There have been 8,132 total deaths with 119 new deaths. On Tuesday, June 30th, the state had no new deaths to report for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Prior to the Fourth of July holiday, Governor Baker updated travel guidelines for the state. Based off of lower infection rates, travelers from several Northeastern states such as Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey were exempt from the fourteen day self-quarantine suggestion.