Lower-risk communities in Massachusetts, including all towns on Cape Cod, will be able to move into the next step in the pandemic reopening plan starting next week.
Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. announced on Tuesday, September 28, that communities that have not been designated as high risk in any of the past three weekly health reports will be able to reopen a few more economic sectors starting Monday, October 5.
No towns on Cape Cod have been labeled as being high risk within the past three weeks.
This next step has been dubbed phase three step two.
Among the industries the announcement affects are indoor and outdoor performance venues and recreation businesses.
Under the state guidance, indoor and outdoor performance venues will be able to open at 50 percent capacity, with no more than 250 people at any time. Performers are not included in the capacity count.
Recreational activities such as laser tag, trampolines, roller rinks and obstacle courses will also be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity.
The capacity limits for gyms, museums and libraries will increase to 50 percent.
Fitting rooms will be allowed to open up in all stores.
Additionally, the restrictions on gatherings have been updated. The number of people allowed at an outdoor gathering will be increased to 100, although it will remain at 50 for the high-risk towns. Indoor gatherings are still limited to 25 people.
Stadiums and arenas are not included in the governor's announcement and will remain closed to the public at this time.
In order to enter this step, a community will have to stay out of the high-risk category for three consecutive weeks. If the community becomes high risk for three weeks, it will be required to roll its opening back.
Across Cape Cod, a total of 1,786 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, an increase of 58 cases over last week. The Barnstable County Department of Human Services reports an additional 204 probable cases of the disease.
No new COVID-19 deaths, confirmed or probable, have been reported in the county in the past week.
Cape Cod Hospital is currently treating seven patients with the illness, one of whom is in intensive care. One patient is being treated at Falmouth Hospital and is not in intensive care.
Throughout the Upper Cape, 27 new cases have been reported since last week.
Bourne has had a total of 187 cases, with seven reported in the past week. Falmouth also had seven new cases reported this week for a total of 272 cases, while Mashpee has had three cases confirmed since last week and has had a total of 86 cases. Sandwich has had an increase of 10 cases over last week for a total of 119 cases.
Sandwich Health Agent David Mason and Fire Chief John J. Burke said the increase in town is not due to the schools reopening and that there is no evidence of community spread. The people who have recently tested positive are asymptomatic healthcare workers who are in their 50s and college students who have been tested while away at school and have Sandwich listed as their primary address.
Mr. Mason said that heading into the fall, it remains important to follow the guidelines surrounding social distancing and masking, even if news of the virus is not as prevalent.