SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Massachusetts will begin to ease some of its pandemic restrictions on businesses as spikes in the number of hospitalizations and new cases of COVID-19 have begun to slow, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday.
Beginning Monday at 5 a.m., the state’s early closure order for businesses and the stay at home advisory for the public will be lifted, Baker said at a Statehouse press conference.
The early closure order — put in place in early November — targeted a range of businesses including restaurants, health clubs, movie theaters and others, requiring them to close at 9:30 p.m.
A 25% capacity limit on businesses will remain in place until February 8.
With the lifting of the restriction on business hours, the MGM Springfield casino said it will return to 24-hour operations effective Friday, January 29th. MGM Springfield said that per state guidelines, capacity will remain 25%, and that "additional amenities will reopen in the near future."
Connecticut currently requires most businesses to close at 10 p.m. Governor Ned Lamont said last week that he wasn't ready to lift that restriction until he sees the impact the return of college students, school sports and other factors have on the pandemic. " “Let’s take a look in a couple of weeks," he said.
Baker pointed to positive trends in the disease for his decision to begin to loosen restrictions on businesses.
“Post-Thanksgiving we had a significant spike in cases and hospitalizations,” Baker said. “Today, three weeks into 2021, our public health data is trending in a better direction for some categories.”
Hospitalizations are down by 10% since they peaked in early January, he said. The average positive test rate for COVID-19 has gone down 33% since the beginning of January.