Baker: Outdoor Dining in Massachusetts Could Resume June 8
Outdoor dining could resume in Massachusetts on June 8 if coronavirus trends continue to improve, but that date is not set in stone.
Governor Charlie Baker announced Friday that restaurants will not be able to offer sit-down service in any form until that date. He said he will announce on June 6 when the second phase of the state’s four-step reopening plan may actually begin.
As restaurants resume table service, only outdoor dining will be allowed at first, with tables spaced six feet apart and no seating at bars, according to guidance released by the state. There will be a maximum party size of six at any one table.
And if you're wondering how to eat and drink while wearing a mask, fear not. Under the guidance, customers may remove face covering while seated at tables.
Baker said the state has been working on plans to allow more outdoor seating, including taking over certain travel lanes and parking lots. He added that some restaurant staff may return to work this Monday to prepare for the launch of outdoor dining with COVID-safe precautions in place. Indoor dining will eventually be phased in, but with strict rules for social distancing, hygiene, and sanitation.
The state also released new guidelines for hotels and other lodgings, which will be allowed to resume some normal operations in Phase Two. Event spaces such as ballrooms and conference rooms will not be allowed to reopen yet.
Baker said he plans to issue an executive order Monday with more details of how businesses may reopen in each of the state’s four reopening phases. The governor has said that each phase will last a minimum of three weeks, and may be extended or rolled back if public health data warrants extra caution.
The governor added that his Monday order will allow professional sports teams to resume practice in their training facilities, with no members of the public allowed.
On the South Coast, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell announced Friday that he has formed a restaurant reopening advisory group in order to encourage the safe and profitable operation of eateries as the city's COVID-19 numbers continue to stabilize. Mitchell told WBSM that the provision of outdoor alcohol service will be essential for the profitability piece, and that the city will have standards in place to allow for that.