Never mind the light at the end of the tunnel. After Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening announcement Tuesday, Massachusetts can now see the end of the tunnel itself.
The governor told Bay Staters to mark their calendars for Aug. 1—by that date, Baker is expecting to have rescinded gathering limits, removed all industry restrictions and allowed 100 percent capacity again across all industries.
“We hope that with more vaccines and a continued success in stopping COVID we can take this step earlier, but it will depend on everyone continuing to get vaccinated and doing the right things,” the governor said during his Tuesday press conference.
Baker outlined the steps that his administration will take between now and Aug. 1, too. As of Friday, he will loosen his outdoor mask mandate to require face coverings outside only when it is not possible to socially distance and when they are otherwise required by sector-specific guidance. Large venues can increase to 25% capacity and amusement parks will be allowed to reopen as soon as May 10.
And on May 29—the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend—Massachusetts will allow up to 200 people to gather indoors and 250 outdoors; street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals can return at half-capacity; and bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries may reopen. Restaurant restrictions will also be relaxed.
The governor was careful to note reopening steps are “subject to public health and vaccination data.” Later Tuesday, the Department of Public Health confirmed 825 new cases of COVID-19 and announced four recent deaths from the virus.