Somerville Rolls Back COVID-19 Reopenings to a Modified Version of Phase II, Step 2
New closures primarily affect gyms and indoor recreation spaces; Mayor proposes $5 million in local business stabilization funds for City Council approval
Due to the accelerating spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts and CDC warnings that the United States has entered a dangerous and record-breaking phase of high-level transmission for the virus, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Somerville Board of Health are rolling back the City of Somerville to a modified version of Phase II, Step 2 of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ reopening plan effective end of day Wednesday, December 16, at 11:59 p.m. and will be in effect for at least three weeks.
In addition, Mayor Curtatone will be submitting a proposal for City Council approval to use an additional $5 million from City fiscal reserves as economic stabilization funds to support local businesses impacted by the pandemic. The main businesses affected by this rollback will be gyms and indoor recreational facilities. Additional rollbacks are under review. The rollback is being undertaken in tandem with the City of Boston and other area communities.
“We fully appreciate the economic hardship and mental strain caused by efforts to lessen the spread of this deadly disease, but given the surging transmission of this virus we have no choice but to take more restrictive measures,” Mayor Curtatone said. “We have 50 people in our city who have died due to coronavirus and the measures we take today are designed to save lives in our community and beyond. We are putting together an economic aid package for local businesses facing these necessary closures just as we have delivered support for housing, artists, food, Internet access, and other needs to our community during the crisis.”
The proposed $5 million economic aid package will be presented to Somerville’s City Council on Thursday, December 17. It is intended to bridge the gap until State or Federal aid becomes available.
“With no help or guidance from Federal and State government in sight, the City and our community need to step up and support and protect each other,” said City Council President Matthew McLaughlin.
The Mayor cautioned that municipal leaders throughout the Greater Boston region are also discussing further restrictions, including the closure of all indoor dining spaces.
“To have the greatest public health impact, closing indoor dining needs to take place regionally, not town by town,” Mayor Curtatone said. “If you can just cross the city line to eat in the community next door, border-hopping will just spur community spread of this deadly virus. Though it’s a painful choice, many of us have been pressing for the cessation of indoor dining to slow the virus and we hope very soon to see broad regional action on it. In the meantime, Somerville can put these assistance funds in place to help preserve businesses affected by these new and anticipated rollbacks. I’m also calling on residents, who are able, to increase their use of take-out services at our restaurants or consider gift cards to local restaurants and businesses this holiday season. That extra spending can help buffer the economic strain they face. Hopefully, the State and Federal governments also will step forward to provide more support for those facing business closures in order to keep coronavirus in check.”
To help break the chain of transmission, members of the public are also strongly urged to continue limiting non-essential activities and following all recommended COVID-19 safety guidelines including wearing face coverings at all times when not at home (remember to cover both nose and mouth), social distancing, avoiding crowded spaces, postponing travel, increasing ventilation, washing hands frequently, and staying home and getting tested if you feel ill or may have been exposed to the virus.
Medical offices, retail establishments, and personal care businesses (like hairdressers) will continue to operate under their current regulations and restrictions. Office spaces may remain open at 40 percent of capacity, though employers are urged to maximize the amount of work done from home and ensure that employees remain masked at all times while in the office.
“We understand it is difficult to keep track of all the different local and state regulations. The key thing people should remember is they should not gather indoors with people from outside their immediate household,” said Doug Kress, Somerville’s Director of Health and Human Services. “Keep your circle as limited as possible and don’t share your air with anyone from outside of it. In any situation where you are outside your home, you should have a face covering on at all times. Different municipalities and the state may have a variety of regulations, but we are all acting to fight a clear and present danger to human lives. Please help break the chain of transmission of this virus.”
Closing as of the end of day Wed., Dec. 17
- Indoor fitness centers and health clubs, including gyms using alternative spaces. One-on-one personal training sessions are allowed.
- Indoor non-athletic instructional classes in arts, education & life sciences for persons 18 years and older
- Indoor recreational and athletic facilities (except for youth 18 and under), indoor pools may remain open for all ages under pre-registration format structure limited to one person per swim lane
- Indoor recreational venues with potential for low-contact (for example, ax throwing, rock-climbing, etc.)
Remaining closed or restricted (as Somerville has had existing additional phase restrictions in place)
- Outdoor theaters and outdoor performance venues
- Indoor theaters, arenas, and performance venues, including concert halls
- Movie theaters
- Indoor live theaters
- Bowling facilities, arcades, and gaming spaces
- Indoor event spaces (meeting rooms, ballrooms, private party rooms, social clubs)
- Existing limits to pool usage remain in place
- Office spaces may remain open at 40 percent capacity. Employers are strongly encouraged to allow employees to work from home as much as possible.
- Indoor dining in restaurants may remain in operation with restricted bar seating. Ancillary activities such as pool tables, darts, trivia, etc. remain prohibited. Bar seating remains closed.
- Existing restrictions, plans and safety plans remain in place for post-secondary, higher ed/ and vocational-tech/trade/occupational schools.
- Outdoor event spaces may be used for gatherings and celebrations under the Somerville current 10-person capacity limit.
- Motion picture, television and streaming production may continue to operate.
For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. We urge you to sign up for every alert method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email. Also follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.