Massachusetts’s reopening plan is moving along, with the Baker-Polito administration announcing on April 27 a long list of newly relaxed mandates that will go into effect in the coming weeks and months, some of which affect the restaurant industry.
Restaurants and other performance and event venues, for instance, will be able to welcome singers back indoors for live music as of May 10 — with strict distancing in place.
On May 29, as long as public health and vaccination data are still trending favorably, bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries that have not already been able to reopen (those with no food service) will finally return, subject to the same rules as restaurants — seated service only, 90-minute limits, and no dance floors. Likewise, restaurants will no longer be required to serve food with alcohol at this time, and the maximum group size will increase from six to 10.
May 29 will also see the increase of indoor and outdoor gathering limits to 200 and 250 people respectively for public and private events. Street and agricultural festivals will also return at this time, with a 50% capacity cap.
On August 1, dance clubs and nightclubs will reopen and capacities across all industries will increase to 100%.
The timelines are all subject to change based on public health data, and individual cities can make or maintain stricter policies. Boston, for example, will trail the rest of the state by three weeks for some of these loosening restrictions, in order to allow “additional time to vaccinate vulnerable residents, accommodate dense neighborhoods, and support complex business districts,” per a tweet from Mayor Kim Janey. This includes delaying singing at indoor venues until June 1, reopening breweries, etc., on June 19, and more.
While most of the statewide changes are still a month or more away, one change will come into play this Friday, April 30: Face coverings will no longer be required across the board in public outdoor settings, only when it is not possible to socially distance or when required by industry-specific guidance.
Update, April 28, 2021: This piece has been updated to reflect that Boston is taking a slower approach to reopening.