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Mass. Outdoor Mask Mandate To Be Eased; Bars And Amusement Parks Reopening In May; Road Races To Return

BOSTON (CBS) - Massachusetts is about to enter the final phase of its reopening process. The outdoor mask mandate will be eased this week; bars, amusement parks and outdoor water parks can reopen soon, road races will return and restrictions on all businesses will be lifted on August 1.

Gov. Charlie Baker's office released these full details Tuesday.

"All this progress toward getting people back to normal has been possible because of everyone's commitment to stop the spread of COVID, and people lining up and getting a vaccine when it's their turn," Baker said.

Effective Friday, April 30:

Face covering guidance will be relaxed for some outdoor settings. Masks will only be required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and other times based on "sector-specific guidance."

Related: CDC Relaxes Outdoor Mask Guidance

Coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places, and at events indoors or outdoors except when eating or drinking.

In private gatherings, face coverings are "recommended but not required." The $300 enforcement fine will no longer apply.

Effective Monday, May 10:

  • Large venues such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks currently operating at 12% capacity can increase crowds to 25%
  • Amusement parks, theme parks and outdoor water parks will be permitted to operate at a 50% capacity after submitting safety plans to the Department of Public Health
  • Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events will be permitted to take place. Staggered starts are required and safety plans must be submitted at a local level
  • Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate and high risk sports
  • Singing will be permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues and other businesses

Effective Saturday, May 29:

  • Gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings and private settings
  • Street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals can operate at 50% of their previous capacity
  • Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries will be subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90 minute limit and no dance floors.
  • Restaurant guidance will be updated to eliminate the requirement that food be served with alcohol and to increase the maximum table size to 10

Effective Sunday, August 1:

  • Dance clubs, and nightclubs can reopen
  • Saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs and other facilities can resume
  • Indoor water parks can return to business
  • Ball pits are allowed

Assuming vaccination rates and case counts continue to trend in the right direction, on August 1 all restrictions will be lifted and capacity will increase to 100% for all industries, the Baker administration said. The gathering limit will also be rescinded.

Baker said it is possible restrictions will be lifted earlier than August 1. That date could be reevaluated, "depending on vaccine distribution and public health data."

"We hope that with more vaccines, and a continued success in stopping COVID, we can take this step earlier, but it will depend on everyone continuing to get vaccinated and doing the right things," he said.

Massachusetts has been in Phase 4, Step 1 of its reopening plan since Monday, March 22.

"There were some very dark days over the last year, especially this past winter, but our economic recovery is taking hold, more businesses are reopening, outdoor dining is returning, and people are returning to work," said Sec. of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy.

The team behind the Falmouth Road Race is prepared to make any adjustments needed to host an in-person event on August 15th.

"Definitely exciting. We've been waiting to hear," said Falmouth Road Race Inc President Scott Ghelfi. "We can now move forward working with our town and local officials to hopefully get our race approved."

Jonathan Saphire of the Saphire Event Group says increasing the capacity limits will help bring the wedding industry back to normal.

"I almost wanted to cry, cry for the clients too. It's definitely an emotional roller coaster the last 14 months," said he said, "I'm very happy for the couples, they can have the wedding that they've envisioned for their whole life."

For more information on what's opened and closed, check the state's website.

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