Easing of outdoor performance restrictions expected
The City of Somerville is remaining in reopening Phase 3, Step 1 until at least March 30 and capacity limits in Somerville businesses will remain at 25% or the limit set in the business’s City-approved health and safety plan until further notice.
National health experts including Drs. Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky of the CDC have repeatedly in recent days and weeks called on states and municipalities to not prematurely open businesses and activities as the nation faces the risk of another surge and the spread of new more transmissible variants of the virus. Although COVID-19 case rates have been mostly declining, they still remain at levels much higher than in the summer. Additionally, rates of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are currently at levels seen in the fall when the Commonwealth and the City experienced a second surge.
The City is actively and closely monitoring local and state data, the progress of vaccinations, vaccine equity concerns, and the guidance of experts. Somerville will move to allow additional activities and further openings when it is determined to be safe to do so. Meanwhile, preparation for reopening continues with a streamlining of related municipal processes underway designed to facilitate reopenings when they become safer.
“We are encouraged by current data trends and rising vaccination rates. We are hopeful that after we get through the holding period called for by the CDC that we will be able to move responsibly and safely into the next phases of reopening,” said Health and Human Services Director Doug Kress. “But embracing hope does not warrant abandoning caution. Just as we are eagerly looking forward to reopening, we are just as committed to holding on until more of our most vulnerable are vaccinated and scientists better understand what impacts the variants may bring.”
Due to the relatively lower COVID-19 risk of some outdoor activities versus those conducted indoors, the City is also actively considering new guidance to permit certain outdoor performances and commercial activities. This includes performances in public and commercial outdoor spaces such as outdoor dining. Some of these options are subject to approval by the Licensing Commission. Updates will be announced when finalized and if approved.
Until such time, Somerville continues to hold the limit on attendance at gatherings to no more than 10 persons until further notice. The limit applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings of any kind unless otherwise specifically permitted by City activity-specific guidelines or City-approved health and safety plans.
For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit http://www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at http://www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. Community members are encouraged to sign up for every alert method: phone call, text, email. Also follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.