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Boston Rolls Back Coronavirus Rules, Closing Gyms, Museums And More

BOSTON (CBS) – Mayor Marty Walsh announced on Monday that the city is moving back to a modified Phase 2, Step 2 in its reopening plan in order to slow surging COVID cases in the city. As a result, a number of businesses will be forced to close for at least three weeks.

Walsh made the announcement during his Monday COVID-19 press briefing.

"Our goal with this three week pause is to slow the spread now, so we can avoid more severe shutdowns later on," said Walsh.

The city's order goes into effect on Wednesday. In three weeks, the city will reevaluate metrics.

Museums, movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers are among the businesses that will be ordered to close as a result.

Museum, movie theaters, aquariums, and indoor event spaces will temporary be closed. In-person fitness centers, health clubs, and gyms must close for general use, though one-on-one personal training can continue. Indoor bowling alleys, driving ranges, batting cages, and rock climbing gyms must close.

Retail stores, hair salons, and indoor dining can remain open with restrictions, but bar seating will not be allowed.

"This is not about targeting specific sectors that cause the virus. This is an effort to reduce overall activity outside the home," Walsh said.

According to Walsh, Boston is joining several other cities including Arlington, Brockton, Lynn, Newton, Somerville, and Winthrop to put additional restrictions in place. Walsh noted that restrictions could vary by community.

Last week Gov. Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts was rolling back to Phase 3, Step 1 in its reopening plan. Those changes went into effect at midnight Sunday.

Walsh said the positivity rate in Boston for the week ending December 6 was 7.2%.

"Rather than wait until the situation gets worse, we're going to be proactive," Walsh said.

The mayor said that if numbers continue rising and the hospitals become overwhelmed, restaurants would be shut down.

Boston Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez said there are currently more than 300 COVID patients in Boston hospitals, the first time it has been that high since June.

Business owners are urged to visit the City of Boston website to see how the order impacts them.

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