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Massachusetts Restaurants Will Soon Be Able to Operate at 40 Percent Capacity

Restaurants have been operating at 25 percent capacity since December 2020

Stock photograph of restaurant kitchen staff in white jackets with faces hidden behind a metal prep counter. ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Restaurants and some other businesses in Massachusetts will soon be able to operate at 40 percent capacity. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the news at his February 4 press briefing, easing restrictions that were put in place on December 26, 2020 that capped restaurant capacities at 25 percent. The new capacity cap will take effect on February 8 at 5 a.m.

The 25 percent capacity cap was initially supposed to expire on January 10, but a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 infections across the Commonwealth forced the Baker administration to extend the safety measure until at least January 24. The capacity cap was extended a second time until at least February 8, when it will now expire.

Gov. Baker cited promising trends in public health data as the reason for adjusting the capacity caps upward.

“Hospitalizations are down 33 percent since they peaked in January,” said Gov. Baker. “And the seven day average of cases is also down by about 53 percent since its peak, from 6,120 down to 3,274.”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said that the capacity caps do not include restaurant workers.

The capacity cap expansion is the second major easing of restrictions for restaurants and other businesses in the past 10 days — on January 25, the state lifted its stay-at-home advisory and early business closure order that had previously required restaurants and other businesses in Massachusetts to close by 9:30 p.m.

As capacity caps are being increased across Massachusetts, it’s important to note that restaurant workers in the state are still not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and there are still very real risks associated with dining out.

In addition to the change in guidelines, Lt. Gov. Polito announced updates to the state’s COVID-19 relief fund: 4,043 new businesses received grant money this week, including 1,300 restaurants, bars, caterers, and food trucks.

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