Gyms, movie theaters allowed to reopen, but some don’t
BOSTON (AP) — Gyms and movie theaters were among the businesses allowed to reopen in Massachusetts Monday under the third phase of the governor’s coronavirus economic recovery plan, but welcoming customers again isn’t quite as easy as simply unlocking the doors.
David Bramante, the owner of the independent West Newton Cinema in Newton just outside of Boston, said he would open Friday at the earliest despite being closed for almost four months.
“There is just so much to do to implement all these new procedures,” Bramante said.
His six screens will be limited to 40% capacity to maintain proper social distancing, and he will be required to clean the facility more often.
“Then there’s got to be training for staff before even opening to get all these new things straightened out,” he said.
Many Massachusetts movie theaters are in the same boat, according to Dan Vieira, executive director of Theater Owners of New England, an industry organization that represents both independent cinemas as well as chains.
“Everybody is anxious to get reopened and reopen safely, but the new guidelines just came out Friday and they are very detailed,” he said. “I think it’s going to take a while for some.”
Even when he does reopen, Bramante won’t be allowed to sell snacks and drinks.
And that’s more than just a loss of revenue. “Popcorn is a big part of the movie experience,” he said.
CrossFit Watch City, a gym in Waltham, has been offering outdoor workouts in its parking lot for a month now, but reopened its 4,600-square-foot indoor gym on Monday, owner Al Ramos said.
He found that most of his members preferred to stay outdoors.
“We had a few people willing to dabble indoors but they stayed near the front door,” which he described a garage-type door. “I foresee that holding true for a while.”
Like the movie theaters, Ramos said his toughest task was complying with the state’s reopening guidelines.
“I had everything laid out to reopen, then the state came out with their plans last week and I had to do it all over again,” he said. “It required a lot of thinking.”
And cleaning requirements have reached a whole new level. “We’re cleaning at an unprecedented rate,” he said.
Boston’s phase 3 reopening is delayed a week until July 13.
Although museums are allowed to welcome visitors Monday, many are delaying reopening.
Professional sports will also be able to resume playing games under Phase 3, but with no fans.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
Massachusetts reported another 15 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 8,198.
There were about 163 newly confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, reported Monday — bringing the total number of confirmed and probable cases to more than 110,000 in Massachusetts since the start of the pandemic.
There were just over 600 people reported hospitalized because of COVID-19, while 99 were in intensive care units.
The number of the deaths at long-term care homes rose to 5,184 — or more than 63% of all confirmed and probable deaths in Massachusetts attributed to the disease.
The largest operator of affordable housing in Massachusetts has extended its moratorium on evictions of tenants experiencing financial hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic until Dec. 31, the company announced Monday.
WinnCompanies said the moratorium will apply to all residents financially impacted by COVID-19 who are eligible under the state Department of Housing and Community Development’s guidelines issued in April.
Proper documentation will be required.
Gov. Baker signed emergency legislation enacting a statewide eviction moratorium, but that is currently set to expire on Aug. 18.
“Compassion for our residents is not optional; it has been a founding principle of WinnCompanies’ culture and operations for 50 years,” WinnCompanies CEO Gilbert Winn said in a statement.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield announced Monday that diocesan schools will open for full-time, in-class instruction this fall.
The diocese’s two high schools and 12 elementary schools have space under current enrollment numbers to ensure the safety of students and staff under social distancing rules, Superintendent Daniel Baillargeon said in a statement.
“We know in person, teacher to student instruction is the most effective way for students to learn,” he said. “That’s why in observing all the social distancing requirements we have, we are designing all our schools in such a way to maximize this kind of instruction.”