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BOSTON – With a second surge of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a continued increase in cases since Thanksgiving, Governor Charlie Baker announced today, December 8 he will move the state back to “phase 3, step 1” and reduced capacity limits in the Commonwealth effective this Sunday.

This means Phase 3, Step 2 businesses will need to close as of Sunday.

Editor’s Note: The City of Framingham was one of a few communities in the Commonwealth that never went to stage 2 of Phase 3.

The return to Step 1 will also require the closure of certain businesses designated as Step 2 industries.

These include indoor performance venues and certain high-contact indoor recreational businesses.

In addition, capacity limits will be reduced to 40% statewide for most industries (see list below), and the limit on outdoor gatherings will be reduced statewide from 100 persons to 50 persons. Additional safety measures will be applied to restaurant dining as well.

These new measures are designed to prevent infection and viral spread, especially in indoor settings. They will create stronger mask compliance, more social distancing, and limits to the time spent with people outside of your immediate household. 

The Administration also announced additional guidance for certain sectors including restaurants, office spaces and gyms, to address activities where mask wearing is not possible at all times.

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Effective December 13, all communities will roll back to Phase 3, Step 1 of Massachusetts’ re-opening plan, including the following restrictions:

  • Outdoor gatherings at event venues will be limited to no more than 50 people
  • Hosts of outdoor gatherings of greater than 25 people will be required to provide advance notice of the gathering their local board of health
  • Indoor theaters and performance venues and higher contact indoor recreation businesses will be required to close to the public
  • Outdoor theaters and performance venues will be limited to 25% capacity, and no more than 50 people

Those sectors include:

  • Arcades/Indoor and Outdoor Recreational Businesses
  • Driving and Flight Schools
  • Gyms/Health Clubs
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Retail
  • Offices
  • Places of Worship
  • Lodging (common areas)
  • Golf
  • Movie theaters (no more than 50 people per theater)

The new order would close food court seating, but not limit capacity at restaurants.

This new capacity limit will not apply to sectors that do not currently have a percentage-based capacity limit, including restaurants, laboratories and close contact personal services.

Click here to read the revised gatherings order.

Click here to read the order rolling Massachusetts back to Phase III, Step 1.

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The Governor said COVID is “truly a secret and silent spread,” said Gov. Baker.

We have asked businesses and their employees to sacrifice during this pandemic, said the Governor.

“The state of Massachusetts is being tested again,” said Gov. Baker about the virus.

He said the Commonwealth is seeing “disturbing trends.”

“We can not wait for the vaccine to get here,” said the Governor.

Employers are being asked to encourage teleworking, said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.


Restaurants would be limited to no more than 6 people per table. This is down from 10 people per table.

Restaurants would have a 90-minute time limit on tables, said Lt. Gov. Polito.

Patrons at restaurants and staff are to wear a mask at all times except when eating and drinking.

Restaurants are to encourage customers to only dine with individuals from the same household (but the order does not require that).

Social clubs must follow restaurant rules, said Lt. Gov. Polito.

The new order would prohibit all musical performances at restaurants.

In regards to workplaces and gyms, all would need to wear a mask in offices when not in your own workspace and alone.

“We continue to see spread in the workplace,” said Lt. Gov. Polito.

Mask wearing will be required in gyms at all times.

“These new restrictions will be difficult,” said the state economic development secretary, who encouraged residents to visit and support local businesses.

“Put your money where your heart is and shop local,” said the Secretary.

“We have issued some of the most aggressive public health orders across the country,” said Gov. Baker.

The press conference is happening now, and this report will be updated.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.