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MA Rolls Back Reopening As COVID-19 Threatens Hospital Capacity

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Massachusetts is moving back to the first step of phase three of the reopening plan and instituting additional restaurant restrictions.

By Mike Carraggi, Patch, December 8, 2020

Indoor entertainment venues are taking another hit in the latest round of coronavirus restrictions in Massachusetts. (Jenna Fisher/Patch)

MASSACHUSETTS — The state is rolling back its reopening plan and instituting some new restrictions as a surge of coronavirus infections threatens to overwhelm the state’s health care system.

Massachusetts is moving back to the first part of phase three, reducing gathering and capacity limits and shuttering some indoor activity and entertainment venues. The step back goes into effect Sunday.

Indoor capacity for most businesses and other facilities like churches, gyms and retail stores is being reduced to 40 percent. The outdoor gathering limit is being slashed from 100 to 50. Hosts of outdoor gatherings that have more than 25 people must tell their local board of health in advance.

Baker also announced additional mask guidance for many indoor businesses and activities. Restaurant customers will be required to wear masks unless they are eating or drinking.

Other restaurant restrictions including reducing table capacity from 10 people to six and enforcing 90-minute dine-in limits. Baker noted some restaurants already practice these standards.Subscribe

“Try to take advantage of the guidance,” Baker said. “Don’t spend a lot of time in indoor spaces with people you don’t live with. Don’t go to a friend or a neighbor’s house without a mask on.”

Baker pleaded with people to do their part in slowing the spread of the virus, which been spiking since even before Thanksgiving. Recent days have seen record COVID-19 cases and sharply increasing hospitalizations.

“We cannot simply wait for the vaccine to get here,” Baker said.

More than 1,500 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and about 20 percent of them are in intensive care. Monday’s report from the Department of Public Health saw the highest increase of hospitalized patients in a 24-hour period since April.

“The rate Massachusetts residents are getting infected and the rate at which they are needing medical care, if all continues to move at this pace, is simply not sustainable over time, and our health care system will be put at risk,” Baker said.

Baker said 11 hospitals have only 10 percent or less of their adult inpatient beds available, and only about a third of intensive care beds remain empty.

“This sharp increase is putting a strain on our health care system and our health care workers,” he said.

The state is instructing hospitals to curtail most elective procedures beginning Friday, a move aimed at preventing the health care system from being overwhelmed.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 250,000 people in Massachusetts have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 11,000 have died from it.

Tuesday’s rollback reduces capacity from 50 percent to 40 percent for the following sectors:

  • Arcades
  • Indoor and outdoor recreational businesses
  • Driving and flight schools
  • Gyms and health clubs
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Retail
  • Offices
  • Places of worship
  • Lodging (common areas)
  • Golf facilities
  • Movie theaters (maximum of 50 people per theater)

Original article is here: MA Rolls Back Reopening As COVID-19 Threatens Hospital Capacity

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