Amid signs that the second coronavirus surge is stabilizing, Gov. Charlie Baker is moving to relax some restrictions on businesses in Massachusetts.
During a press conference Thursday at the State House, the governor announced that he will lift the statewide business curfew and nighttime stay-at-home advisory this upcoming Monday, Jan. 25.
The curfew, which was imposed in early November, required virtually all entertainment-related businesses — from in-person dining at restaurants to theaters to salons to gyms — to close or cease service by 9:30 p.m. It also required alcohol and recreational marijuana sales to stop at 9:30 p.m.
Baker did however announce that the state will keep in place its 25 percent capacity limit on offices, restaurants, stores, and other recreational businesses until at least Feb. 8. Massachusetts will also remain in the the first step of Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, at least for the time being.
While organized gatherings and events will be allowed past 9:30 p.m., officials say the 10-person limit on indoor gatherings and 25-person limit on outdoor gatherings will also remain in place.
After the Bay State saw a troubling increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths through the fall and early winter, Baker said Thursday that “for the first time in a long time” the state’s hospitalization and positivity rates have begun to trend downward.
While still significantly higher than the levels seen through the summer and early fall, Baker noted that the state’s positive COVID-19 test rate had fallen 33 percent — from 8.7 percent to 5.8 percent — since the beginning of January. Hospitalizations due to the virus in Massachusetts are also down 10 percent from their peak earlier this month, 2,428 to 2,209, he said.
“We are not out of the woods yet by any means, but things do appear to be getting a bit better here in Massachusetts,” Baker said, noting that the state’s vaccine rollout also expanded to all Phase 1 groups Thursday.
“We hope to see those trends continue moving forward,” he added. “And if they do, we’ll be back to talk about lifting some of the restrictions that are currently in place.”