Even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise at a slow and steady pace in Massachusetts, Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. has announced that some restaurant restrictions will be relaxed starting next week.

At a news conference held on Wednesday, September 23, the governor said that starting on Monday, September 28, restaurants in the state will be able to seat tables of 10 people. The previous restriction was six.

Additionally, while bars will continue to remain closed, Gov. Baker said that bar spaces can be used for food service as long as social distancing guidelines continue to be enforced. Guests will continue to be required to order food in addition to their drinks.

The City of Boston will not be increasing the number of customers per table, Mayor Marty Walsh has said.

On Cape Cod, a total of 32 new cases of the disease have been identified in the past week, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Barnstable County to 1,722. The Barnstable County Department of Human Services has indicated that 221 additional probable cases have been identified on the Cape.

Since last week three people have died from COVID-19, for a total of 174 deaths from the disease in the county.

Five people are currently hospitalized in area hospitals with the illness, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Of those, four are at Cape Cod Hospital and one is at Falmouth Hospital. One of the patients at Cape Cod Hospital is in intensive care.

Bourne has had a total of 180 cases with six positive tests reported in the past two weeks, Falmouth has had a total of 265 cases with 15 positive tests in the past two weeks, Mashpee has had 83 total cases with five positive tests in the past two weeks, and Sandwich has had a total of 109 cases with one positive test in the past two weeks. With the exception of Falmouth, each of the towns has five or fewer active cases. Falmouth has 12, according the the state health department.

Across the state, the average age for a person hospitalized with the disease is 63, while the average age of a person contracting the illness is 37. The majority of people who have been diagnosed in the past two weeks have been in their 20s, though the same age group accounts for 1 percent of the hospitalizations in the past two weeks.

Testing has been conducted among staff and students at higher education facilities as part of their reopening plans. A total of 629 cases have been identified at higher education institutions, 130 of which were identified in the past week.

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