Most of Massachusetts is moving forward with the next phase of its economic reopening, which covers many indoor venues like gyms, museums movie theaters and casinos, effective on Monday.
The governor’s order covers all of the state except Boston, where the changes will take effect on July 13.
Gov. Charlie Baker said data shows that the state is controlling the coronavirus, but recent surges in other parts of the country serve as a cautionary tale. “We’d hate to have to move backwards,” he said previously.
Strict rules are in place for the third phase of a four-phase economic reopening in Massachusetts.
Gyms and fitness centers, for example, are limited to 40% of capacity and must install barriers between exercise equipment, or commit to 14 feet of spacing between them.
The New England Museum Association said its members are taking a cautious approach to reopening, Many of them will remain closed Monday as they opt for later reopening dates.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, meanwhile, reported Sunday that there were another 136 cases and 11 more deaths. All told, nearly 110,00 people have tested positive for the virus, and more than 8,000 have died in Massachusetts, officials say.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
In other coronavirus-related news around the region:
More than 1,300 students are scrambling after the University of Rhode Island decided to reduce on-campus housing this fall.
The university consulted with state health officials before deciding to cut on-campus housing by 30%. That means the university will house 4,400 students this fall compared to 6,200 in the past.
Priority for remaining dormitory space is going to freshmen, transfer students and out-of-state students.
Some students left without housing may simply commute because students will take half of their classes online, reducing the number of days they need to be on campus, said Kathy Collins, URI’s vice-president of students affairs.
“Because we’re in the middle of a health crisis, this fall is going to be very different,” she told The Providence Journal. “Students may only need to be here twice a week.”
Minority business owners and community leaders in New Hampshire say they are being left behind in efforts to repair the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus.
A group of Black, brown and immigrant business owners and leaders wrote to Gov. Chris Sununu, describing major gaps in how information is being disseminated about grant programs that could help them. For example, they said the U.S. Small Business Administration put on webinars for minority-owned businesses months after loan programs were introduced. And many small business owners can’t afford memberships to chambers of commerce or other groups that could serve as resource, they said.
“We cannot allow this unjust situation to become business as usual,” they wrote.
The group proposed spending $2 million on minority-owned business, $1 million to expand English language education, $1 million for support services such as as translation and transportation, and $1 million for minority student scholarships.
Sununu has created a COVID-19 Equity Response Team to address the disproportionate impacts of the virus.
On Saturday, New Hampshire health officials reported four new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the state total to 380.
Fewer tourists, declining restaurant sales and worker shortages could be problems for Maine’s wild blueberry growers who are preparing to begin harvesting amid the pandemic.
The Wild Blueberry Commission and other agricultural organizations have been working with state government to ensure that “we’ll have the immigrants and visas and the migrant labor workforce,” says Patricia Kontur, the director of programs for the commission.
Denise Alexander, who with her husband owns Alexander’s Wild Maine Blueberries, told NewsCenterMaine that reduced restaurant sales will be challenging. But growers are hopeful locals will consume wild blueberries and support local farmers, she said.
The Maine Center for Disease Control reported Sunday that two more Mainers have died and 18 others have tested positive for new coronavirus.
Vermont businesses hurt by the pandemic may apply Monday to the state for grants of up to $50,000.
The funds are from the federal CARES Act and were appropriated by the Legislature in separate bills. They will be distributed by the state.
The grants are on a first-come, first-served basis for businesses with more than one employee that also lost 75% of their business compared to this time last year, WCAX-TV reported.
The state is distributing $70 million but state leaders acknowledge that it’s not enough to help every business. More funding is coming.