Featured Health & Environment

Boston Steps Back in COVID Reopening—Fitness & Rec Centers, Museums, Theaters, Historical Sites to Close for 3 Weeks

In the latest effort to stop the spread of the Coronavirus and the steadily increasing number of cases Boston has seen in recent weeks, the City will return to a modified Phase 2, Step 2 of the reopening plan starting Wednesday, December 16, 2020 for at least three weeks.

What has to close?

  • Indoor fitness centers and health clubs, including gyms using alternative spaces. One-on-one personal training sessions are allowed.
  • Movie theaters
  • Museums
  • Aquariums
  • Indoor recreational and athletic facilities (except for youth 18 and under)
    • This does not apply to collegiate or professional sports. Collegiate sports teams in the City of Boston may continue to use indoor recreational facilities and fitness centers.
    • Indoor pools may remain open for all ages under pre-registration format structure limited to one person per swim lane. 
  • Indoor recreational venues with potential for low-contact (batting cases, driving ranges, bowling alleys, rock-climbing) 
  • Sightseeing and other organized tours (bus tours, duck tours, harbor cruises, whale watching)
  • Indoor historical spaces & sites 
  • Indoor event spaces (meeting rooms, ballrooms, private party rooms, social clubs)
  • Indoor and outdoor gaming arcades associated with gaming devices

What can remain open with restrictions?

  • Office spaces may remain open at 40 percent capacity. Employers are strongly encouraged to allow employees to work from home as much as possible. 
  • Indoor dining in restaurants may remain in operation with restricted bar seating. The 90 minute limit on seatings to reduce crowding and prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be strictly enforced. No member of any dining party may remain in a restaurant for more than 90 minutes in any calendar day. Ancillary activities such as pool tables, darts, trivia, etc. are prohibited. 
    • Bar seating is prohibited unless express written approval is issued by Boston’s Licensing Board, after licensees submit a Bar Seating Plan for review and approval. 
  • Indoor non-athletic instructional classes in arts, education & life sciences for persons 18 years and older may continue to operate within the 10-person capacity limit. 
  • Outdoor event spaces used for gatherings and celebrations within the 25-person capacity limit, including those in parks, reservations, and other outdoor spaces not designated in Phase Four.
  • Outdoor theaters and outdoor performance venues may continue to operate within the 25-person capacity limit.
  • Motion picture, television and streaming production may continue to operate. 

“Unfortunately, we are at the point where we need to take stronger action to control COVID-19 in Boston, and urgently, to ensure our health care workers have the capacity to care for everyone in need,” said Mayor Walsh. “We are hopeful that by reducing opportunities for transmission throughout the region, we will reduce the spread of this deadly virus and maintain our ability to keep critical services open. We continue to urge everyone to take personal responsibility and follow the public health guidelines while visiting any public space or business, and employers to allow their employees to work from home as much as possible. Together, we will be able to get this virus under control, save lives, and ultimately come back stronger.”

Boston had been in Step One of Phase Three of the Reopening plan since July 6th. The City has been experiencing a steady increase in COVID-19 cases among residents since Thanksgiving, with the citywide positive test rate at 7.2 percent for the week ending December 6th, up from 5.2 percent for the prior week.

Other surrounding cities including Somerville, Newton, Arlington, Brockton, Lynn, and Winthrop are following a similar step-back approach in attempts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The State of Massachusetts continues to enforce the following statewide orders:

  • Face coverings order: face masks or cloth face coverings are required in all public places, whether indoors or outdoors, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. 
  •  Travel order: all visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents are required to:
    • Complete the Massachusetts Travel Form prior to arrival, unless visiting from a lower-risk state designated by the Department of Public Health (which currently only includes Hawaii).
    • Quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts.
  •  Stay-at-Home Advisory: residents of Massachusetts are advised to stay home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Read more at boston.gov/reopening