Everett, ‘Red’ Communities Left Out of Next Re-Opening Phase

When much of the rest of the state moves on to the next phase of Gov. Charlie Baker’s re-opening plan on Oct. 5, Everett and other ‘red’ or ‘high-risk’ communities will be left behind – and as Mayor Carlo DeMaria has pointed out, perhaps unfairly.

Want to try on a pair of pants at the boutique?

One will be able to sashay into some tight-fittin’ jeans at a store in Malden, but not Everett.

Looking to have a big indoor concert?

Go to Melrose and one can hear the music, but not in Everett.

Those and many other things will still not be allowed in the City on Oct. 5 despite having case numbers under 10 on most days, and even two days in a row last week with zero cases. Add that the Census numbers being used to calculate the rates are likely far too low – as pointed out a few weeks ago in the Independent by the mayor – and it makes for what seems to be an unfair situation for undercounted, dense urban areas in a system that seems to favor the wealthier suburbs.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Baker announced that effective Monday, October 5, lower risk communities will be permitted to move into Step II of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. All other communities will remain in Phase III, Step I. Gov. Baker also issued a revised gatherings order on Tuesday, and will issue industry-specific guidance and protocols for a range of Phase I, II, and III businesses will also be updated. 

On May 18, the Baker-Polito Administration released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy based on sustained improvements in public health data.

 Last month, the Administration began releasing data on the average daily COVID cases per 100,000 residents, average percent positivity, and total case counts, for all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns.

Lower risk communities are defined as cities and towns that have not been a “red” community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health (DPH) weekly reports. 

Effective October 5, a limited number of sectors will be eligible to reopen, with restrictions, in Step II of Phase III for lower risk communities only:

•Indoor performance venues will be permitted to open with 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people.

•Outdoor performance venue capacity will increase to 50% with a max of 250 people.

•For arcades and indoor and outdoor recreation businesses, additional Step II activities like trampolines, obstacle courses, roller rinks and laser tag will also be permitted to open and capacity will increase to 50%. 

•Fitting rooms will be permitted to open in all types of retail stores. 

•Gyms, museums, libraries and driving and flight schools will also be permitted to increase their capacity to 50%.

 Revised Gatherings Order:

•The limit for indoor gatherings remains at a maximum of 25 people for all communities.

•Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 50 people for all communities.

•Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings will have a limit of 50 people in Step I communities, and a limit of 100 people in lower risk, Step II communities.

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