With COVID-19 cases on the rise in the Boston area, Somerville has announced plans to delay Phase 3 of their reopening plans. The decision was met with some surprise as most of the rest of Massachusetts announced on Friday, August 1 that they would continue with Phase 3 reopening plans. With that said, Somerville has the densest population outside of Boston so officials are understandably concerned about how quickly the Coronavirus could spread if an outbreak occurs.
Phase 3 allows for the reopening of gyms, outdoor performance venues, indoor gatherings, movie theaters and cultural centers. Somerville is hopeful that the decision to postpone moving to Phase 3 will allow the city a chance - albeit a small one - to reopen schools sooner than later which has been made a priority by local officials. Although physical gym locations are still not allowed to reopen, the city will permit fitness centers to establish outdoor exercise options so long as no more than 25 people participate at a time. With the exception of fitness activities, no outdoor gatherings with greater than 10 people are permitted at this time. Even with exercise outdoors, participants will be required to social distance and asked to wear masks whenever possible. Somerville has committed to providing residents an update on their Phase 3 reopening plans by August 17.
While the decision to postpone Phase 3 is likely disappointing too many - including the business owners impacted - it's clear that Somerville is choosing to act with an abundance of caution by putting their citizens' health first. With many states like Florida and Mississippi continuing to see an increase in cases, Somerville's decision is likely to be praised by those advocating for safety first.