Massachusetts Transitions to Phase IV of Reopening Plan

This week, Massachusetts advanced to Step 1 of Phase IV of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. The Commonwealth continues to take steps to reopen Massachusetts’ economy with public health metrics continuing to trend in a positive direction. This includes drops in average daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Massachusetts also continues to be a national leader in vaccination rates. The Commonwealth also replaced the Massachusetts Travel Order originally issued in July 2020 with a Travel Advisory, effective March 22.

Phase IV, Step 1 and Gathering Changes

On March 1, Massachusetts loosened capacity restrictions for several industries and advanced to Step 2 of Phase III of the reopening plan. Since then, hospitalizations dropped by 20 percent and deaths dropped by 24 percent. The seven day average of new cases in long-term care facilities dropped by 53 percent. The positive test rate remains below 2 percent and has been for several weeks now. The seven day average of new cases is also down over this time by 7 percent.

Effective Monday, all communities in Massachusetts moved into Step 1 of Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan. This opens a range of previously closed business sectors under tight capacity restrictions that are expected to be adjusted over time if favorable trends in the public health data continue. Effective on the advancement to Step 1 of Phase IV, the following large capacity sports and entertainment venues will be permitted to operate at a strict 12 percent capacity limit after submitting a plan to the Department of Public Health (DPH):

  • Indoor and outdoor stadiums
  • Arenas
  • Ballparks

Also effective Monday, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings increased to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.

Additionally, dance floors will be permitted at weddings and other events only, and overnight summer camps will be allowed to operate this coming summer. Exhibition and convention halls may also begin to operate, following gatherings limits and event protocols. Other Phase IV sectors must continue to remain closed.

Travel Order

Effective Monday, the Massachusetts Travel Order was replaced with a Travel Advisory.

The new travel advisory urges all persons entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival if they have been out of the state for 24 hours or more.

The advisory does not apply to anyone in the following categories:

  • Anyone who is returning to Massachusetts after an absence of fewer than 24 hours.
  • Travelers who have a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in Massachusetts.
  • Workers who enter Massachusetts to perform critical infrastructure functions (as specified by the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) while they are commuting to or from or while at work.
  • Travelers who are fully vaccinated (i.e. who have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines OR who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 14 days or more ago and who do not have symptoms).

Travelers are additionally encouraged to consult and follow the CDC’s guidelines and requirements for travel. 

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