March COVID-19 Rundown: Reopening Plans Spring Forward
Massachusetts is making significant progress in the fight against COVID, and as a result, we are being rewarded for our efforts. With drops in daily COVID cases and hospitalizations and vaccination rates continuing to soar, Massachusetts seems to finally be on the path to recovery. With society on the mend, it’s been deemed safe to get back on track with the reopening process. However, despite the progress being made against the virus, small businesses are still getting much-needed aid from the state by way of grants. Let’s discuss what we can expect to see as COVID reopening plans advance.
COVID Reopening Plans Advance to Step Two of Phase 3
Massachusetts had quickly become derailed from the initial reopening plan due to the unpredictability of COVID-19, but with the virus hopefully releasing its grip on society, Governor Baker deemed it appropriate to at long last proceed to step two of Phase 3. As of May 18th, Massachusetts’ restrictions will undergo the following revisions:
- Indoor performance venues – such as concert halls and theaters – are permitted to reopen at 50% capacity with a maximum cap of 500 people.
- Indoor recreational activities with potential for contact – such as roller skating, trampoline parks, and laser tag – can reopen at 50% capacity.
- Across all sectors, capacity limits will be raised to 50%, excluding staff.
- Percent capacity limits will no longer be enforced in restaurants and musical performances will be permitted. However, six-foot social distancing, table limits of six patrons, and 90-minute seating limits will remain in place.
However, while society slowly transitions into some semblance of normalcy, the mask mandate will still be enforced for quite some time. Your business is still responsible for the safety of its staff and patrons, so you must continue to be vigilant, proactive, and transparent in your COVID-19 response.
Phase 4: Coming Soon to a Community Near You
Effective on Monday, March 22nd, provided COVID numbers continue to improve, all communities will move into the first step of Phase 4. This will permit the reopening of the sectors previously under orders to remain closed. Included in these sectors are indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, ballparks, and exhibition and convention halls, and with the introduction of Phase 4, these venues will be able to operate at 12% capacity after submitting a plan to the Department of Public Health (DPH). The following gathering limits will also be revised:
- Event venue gathering limits will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 outdoors.
- Weddings and other events will be permitted to have dance floors.
- Overnight summer camps will be permitted to operate.
However, businesses – or business features – that have to wait until step two to reopen include saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms, festivals, social clubs serving as a bar or large venue, dance clubs, bars that don’t serve food, and group athletic events like road races.
$40 Million in COVID Relief Granted to Additional Businesses
Nearly $40 million in COVID relief was awarded to 1,026 Commonwealth businesses, bringing the current administration’s total aid to $602 million in financial support to 13,346 businesses since the start of quarantine. Through the Sector-Specific Relief Grant Program, Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation continues to award aid to businesses who submit applications that meet the program’s requirements. For reference, the sectors that’ve received the most aid include eateries, ranging from restaurants to food trucks, personal services businesses, and independent retailers.
Governor Baker Pushes for Massachusetts Schools to Reopen
The Baker–Polito Administration is moving ahead with the plan to reopen all public schools – from kindergarten to 8th grade – putting an end to remote or hybrid learning. Citing the increasing volume of vaccines and the continuing decline of active COVID-19 cases, districts are required to resume full-time in-person learning by the following dates:
- Kindergarten to 5th Grade: Monday, April 5th
- Middle School (6th to 8th Grade): Wednesday, April 28th
- High School: To be announced in April
Despite the order, parents have the option to continue remote learning for their child through the end of the school year. However, with vaccination enrollment opening for all kindergarten through high school educators and staff on March 11th, incidents of severe COVID-19 cases will hopefully be controlled.
As COVID reopening plans advance, Massachusetts’ economy will slowly recover, but business owners need to understand that many people still won’t be ready to fall into their old consumer patterns. While your favorite patrons may not be ready to visit your business just yet, you mustn’t let up on your marketing; remain present in their minds. At Vision Advertising, we can help you with your social media marketing or offer you coaching to get you through the remainder of this pandemic. Contact us today if you have any concerns about your current marketing plan.