More Details for Small Businesses about MA's Latest Reopening Phase

Date: February 26, 2021

Governor Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts has moved to phase 3, part 2 in the state’s reopening plan as of Monday, February 29. This will allow some small businesses to finally reopen and others to increase the number of people gathering at their establishments.  He indicated if the COVID-19 case trends continue, there may be another step forward in the reopening process in March.

NFIB’s Massachusetts State Director, Christopher Carlozzi reacted to the Governor’s announcement. “This reopening is good news for many desperate business owners who have been forced to remain closed without revenue for months, simply because their type of business involves bringing groups of people together. The pandemic was especially devastating for certain industries, and we can only hope this, along with widespread vaccinations bring people back to stores, restaurants, and other hard-hit businesses once again.

“It is important to remember there are still some small businesses unable to operate or conduct enough business to stay afloat much longer, and we are optimistic the next reopening phase arrives for them as planned. If the decline in cases continues and vaccinations increase, we can only hope bars, amusements, and entertainment venues will also hear good news soon.

Carlozzi’s comments were carried in the Boston Business Journal, The Salem News and the Gloucester Daily Times.

Below are several updates to the state’s reopening process and sector-specific guidance:

Phase 3, Step 2 | Effective Monday, March 1, the Commonwealth will move into Phase 3, Step 2. This will reopen:

  • Indoor performance venues such as concert halls, theaters, and other indoor performance spaces
    Open at 50% capacity with 500 person max.
  • Indoor recreational activities with greater potential for contact: laser tag, roller skating, trampolines, obstacle courses
    Open at 50% capacity.

Updated Capacity Limits | Effective Monday, March 1 the following industries will increase to 50% capacity. Employees will be exempt from capacity restrictions in all of these industries.

  • Arcades & Other Indoor and Outdoor Recreation Businesses
  • Close Contact Personal Services
  • Driving and Flight Schools
  • Fitness Centers and Health Clubs
  • Golf Facilities (indoor)
  • Libraries
  • Operators of Lodging (common spaces)
  • Museums, Cultural & Historic Facilities, Guided Tours
  • Office Spaces
  • Places of Worship
  • Sectors not Otherwise Addressed
  • Theaters and Performance Venues
  • Relevant EEA Industries – Youth sports spectators etc.

The following industries remain unaffected by capacity limits:

  • Drive-in movie theaters
  • Construction
  • Laboratories
  • Manufacturing

Additional Guidance Changes |  Effective Monday, March 1, restaurants will no longer be subject to a % seated capacity limit and their capacity is limited only by the requirement of 6 feet between tables.

  • Musical performances allowed in restaurants (with appropriate distancing).
  • 90 minute time limit on tables stays in place.
  • Limit of no more than 6 per table stays in place.
  • Food courts remain closed.
  • Effective Monday, March 1, fitting rooms may open in all retail businesses.

Gatherings Limit | Effective March 22nd, subject to public health data, the gatherings limit will increase for event venues and public settings, but will stay the same in private settings:

  • Event Venues and Public Settings:
    • 100 indoor
    • 150 outdoor
  • Private Settings (such as private residences):
    • 10 indoors
    • 25 outdoors

Phase 4, Step 1 | Effective March 22nd, subject to public health data, the Commonwealth will move into Phase 4, Step 1:

  • Indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks will reopen with a 12% capacity limit
    • A large venue is defined as a having a capacity of 5,000 or more.
    • Venues with capacity under 5,000 are subject to the Indoor and Outdoor Performance Venue guidance.
    • Large venues will be required to submit a safety plan to the Department of Public Health.
  • Overnight Camps will be allowed to open for Summer 2021.
  • Exhibition and Convention Halls may reopen, subject to gathering limits and event rules.
  • Dance floors may open at weddings and events only.
  • All other Phase 4 industries will not be able to open until a future reopening step. Those include:
    • Road races, street festivals, and parades, and fairs.
    • Amusement parks, theme parks, outdoor water parks.
    • Indoor water parks and indoor/outdoor ball pits.
    • Saunas, hot-tubs, steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs, and other facilities.
    • Beer gardens/ breweries/ wineries/ distilleries.
    • Bars, dance clubs, and nightclubs—venues offering entertainment, beverages, or dancing and not providing seated food service.

Updated guidance can be found at


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