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City of Boston to increase capacity limit on businesses starting Monday

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Mayor's Office

Effective Monday, February 8 at 5 a.m., businesses can operate at 40% capacity, an increase from the current 25% capacity limit.

Given the improvement in the number of COVID-19 cases and the City's positivity rate over the past few weeks, today Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that beginning on Monday, February 8, the City of Boston will align with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' reopening guidance by lifting the 25% capacity restrictions on local businesses, including restaurants and gyms. Effective Monday, February 8 at 5 a.m., businesses can operate at 40% capacity, an increase from the current 25% capacity limit.

"Since the start of the pandemic, we've made decisions based on science and data. The data right now tells us things are moving in the right direction," said Mayor Walsh. "While Massachusetts continues to expand access to vaccines and our numbers trend modestly downward, we need to stay vigilant. Please keep wearing face coverings, washing your hands, staying 6 feet apart and please do not gather with people you don't live with."

As of January 28, 2021, the City was averaging 342.7 COVID-19 positive cases per day, down from 590.4 in mid-January. The City's positive rate is currently 6.2 percent, down from a high of 8.9 percent in early January. For more on COVID-19 cases per neighborhood, visit here.  

The following industries in the City of Boston may increase to 40% capacity on February 8, 2021: 

  • Arcades and Recreational Businesses
  • Close Contact Personal Services (employees do not count toward the 40% limit)
  • Driving and Flight Schools
  • Golf (indoor areas)
  • Gyms/Health Clubs
  • Libraries (Boston Public Libraries will not be open for browsing, but services will remain available through the BPL To Go program)
  • Lodging (common areas)
  • Movie theaters (maximum of 50 people per theater)
  • Museums
  • Offices
  • Places of Worship 
  • Restaurants (employees do not count toward the 40% limit)
  • Retail 

The City remains in Step One of Phase Three of the Reopening Massachusetts Plan. Current restrictions on gathering sizes remains the same, limiting gathering sizes to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. The gatherings limit applies to private homes, event venues and public spaces.

These restrictions are intended to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus during the public health emergency. The Inspectional Services Department (ISD) continues to coordinate the City's enforcement of these restrictions in collaboration with the Boston Police Department, the Boston Fire Department, and the Boston Public Health Commission. These departments work together to investigate and address reported COVID-19 related issues and complaints. In 2020, city agencies responded to and resolved approximately 2,500 complaints. BPD has a party line (617-343-5500) set up to flag properties to investigate. Additionally, the Licensing Board has instituted a weekly standing emergency hearing on Mondays to address any violations of these requirements over the preceding weekend. These hearings allow the Licensing Board to swiftly address these violations as they are a public health and safety concern. 

COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Efforts

The City is working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to vaccinate residents against COVID-19. This week vaccination sites opened at Fenway Park, the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College to anyone who is eligible under the State's vaccine distribution timeline. Following the State's lead, the Boston Public Health Commission in partnership with the Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services is working to create equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine across all populations and neighborhoods in the city. For more information on when and where you will be eligible to receive the vaccine, visit Mass.gov/COVIDvaccine. Individuals aged 75 and older who do not have internet access, or who are having trouble navigating the site, are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to get connected to the City's Age Strong Commission. They can help answer questions and navigate the options available. The State has also announced a new 2-1-1 Mass Vaccine Scheduling Resource line. Translators are available to assist.

"As we ramp up efforts to vaccinate eligible residents, we cannot lose focus on the proven ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing and get tested. There are more than 30 testing sites open across the City that make COVID-19 testing quick and easy," said Chief of Health and Human Services, Marty Martinez.

The City of Boston is partnering with community health centers to increase access to testing, particularly in neighborhoods experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. More information about COVID-19 testing sites throughout the city can be found here. The City is also offering mobile testing sites that are available to anyone, regardless of symptoms and insurance coverage. The mobile testing sites are located in Upham's Corner, Grove Hall, Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park for the month of February.

For more information about Boston's reopening, please visit boston.gov/reopening. For additional questions, please visit the City's coronavirus website or call 3-1-1, Boston's 24-hour constituent hotline. Text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to receive text alerts on a regular basis, available in 11 languages.