May COVID-19 Rundown: Vaccines Lead to Blossoming Reopening
This time last year, the saying, “Make hay in May,” had never seemed so fruitless, as we were all heavily quarantined during the height of the pandemic. Now, a year later, May is bringing more than just flowers; it’s bringing hope. With vaccine appointments extended to all adults, proactive reopening plans, and even more grants awarded to small businesses, we’re quickly approaching a semblance of normalcy. To prepare your business for the month ahead, we’re here to wrap up what’s in store for May and, more importantly, how vaccines are contributing to more lenient restrictions.
Baker Announces Plans for Phase IV, Step 2 of the Reopening Plan
On March 22nd, Massachusetts transitioned into Step 1 of Phase IV of the reopening plan, and since that landmark, positive COVID rates have dropped by 20%, according to Mass.gov. Now that the positivity rate is the lowest it’s been since last summer, Governor Baker has announced plans to proceed to Step 2 of Phase 4, which includes some notable changes:
Large Venue Capacity Changes, Effective Monday, May 10th
Large venues – including stadiums and arenas – will be permitted to increase capacity to 25%, and amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks will be allowed to reopen and operate at 50% capacity. Large, outdoor amateur or professional group events – such as road races and sports tournaments – can also take place after submitting safety plans to the local board of health (BOH) or the Department of Public Health. Singers will be allowed to perform indoors at restaurants, event venues, and other businesses.
Gathering Limits and Eatery Guidance Updates, Effective Saturday, May 29th
Gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors for public and private settings. Festivals and parades will also be permitted at 50% capacity after submitting safety plans to the local BOH. Bar, breweries, wineries, and distilleries restrictions will be updated to mirror restaurant rules and will no longer be required to serve food with alcohol. Restaurant guidance will also be updated to allow a maximum table size of 10.
Full Reopening, Effective Sunday, August 1st
Depending on public health and vaccination data, the remaining industries affected by the pandemic will be allowed to reopen, which include dance clubs, indoor water parks, ball pits, and fitness center saunas, hot-tubs, and steam rooms. Also, all industry restrictions will be lifted, and capacity limits will no longer be in effect. This is, of course, dependent on testing rates, and mask-wearing will likely still be enforced indoors.
Vaccination Rollout Expanded to All Adults
As of April 19th, all adults over the age of 16 were permitted to receive a vaccination, regardless of comorbidity status. Due to the successful rollout thus far, the Baker-Polito administration announced plans Monday, May 3rd to scale down operations at four of Massachusetts’ seven mass vaccination sites to shift resources to providers in communities with more hesitant populations. Nevertheless, with the federal government increasing the distribution of vaccines to CVS Health sites, it’s still easy for residents to make a vaccine appointment.
More Than $30.4 Million in Grants Awarded to 602 Additional Businesses
More than doubling the grants awarded in March, April saw more than $30.4 million in grants awarded to independent retailers, restaurants, and other small businesses across the Commonwealth. These grants were made possible through the Regional Pilot Project Grant Program, Travel and Tourism Recovery Grant Pilot Program, Local Rapid Recovery Planning Program, and Shared Streets and Spaces Program. To find out your COVID relief options, visit Mass.gov’s dedicated page, COVID-19 Resources and Guidance for Businesses.
With the rollout of vaccines contributing to more lenient restrictions, Massachusetts is gradually, yet cautiously, approaching the other side of the pandemic. As a business owner, you should not let the decreasing positivity rates influence your current safety precautions. It’s still important to do your part in diminishing spread. As restrictions lift on your industry, you should also be pursuing stronger marketing. At Vision Advertising, we’ve been helping businesses survive the pandemic through our expert social media management and crisis consultation. If you require the same assistance, contact us today.