Monday (July 6th) marked the beginning of Phase 3 of the Massachusetts coronavirus reopening plan, allowing gyms, museums, movie theaters, libraries, and other organizations to resume business.
Because the coronavirus has a much higher chance of spreading in indoor spaces than outdoor spaces, Gov. Charlie Baker has placed limits on the number of people allowed into a given building. Indoor gatherings will be limited to eight people per 1,000 square feet, with a maximum of 25 people in a single enclosed space. Venues like museums and movie theaters are being told that they may admit no more than 40 percent of the venue’s capacity, and if there is no capacity on record, to follow the aforementioned eight people per 1,000 square feet and 25 people per single enclosed space guidance.
Despite the restrictions, many organizations are leaping at the chance to reopen their doors. The New England Aquarium, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Museum of Science are just some of the museums that plan to open in the coming weeks.
“We are thrilled that the Commonwealth and the City of Boston have deemed it safe for us to welcome back the public to our institution, and we are grateful for their leadership and guidance,” New England Aquarium President and CEO Vikki N. Spruill said in a press release announcing the aquarium’s July 16 reopening. “These have been a challenging few months for so many, and we have missed our visitors. During our reopening, we are focused on providing a responsible, safe and fun experience for all.”
Movie theaters appear to be moving a bit slower, as no locally owned theaters have announced reopening dates yet. AMC, the world’s largest theater chain, will begin to reopen July 30, but has said the reopenings will happen slowly, and has not announced any specifics about which theaters will reopen earliest.
In a subscriber newsletter, the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge outlined the some of the safety steps it plans to take upon reopening, including mandatory face coverings for guests and staff, assigned seating, and online-only ordering for tickets and concessions. The theater also used the e-mail to ask for donations, noting that even when they do reopen, the reduced capacity will make the theater’s finances vulnerable.
“Even when we are able to welcome you back, our work to ensure that The Brattle endures won’t be over,” the e-mail said. “Our seating capacity will be drastically cut — and not just for a little while, but until there is a treatment or easily available vaccine.”
Here is when Boston-area museums, movie theaters, and cultural institutions will reopen, with links to respective websites where you can find more information.
American Heritage Museum: July 8
Discovery Museum: July 14
Institute of Contemporary Art: July 14
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: July 15
New England Aquarium: July 16
Museum of Science, Boston: July 26
Peabody Essex Museum: July 18
Waterworks Museum: July 15
AMC Theaters: Starting July 30 nationwide, local reopening unknown
Brattle Theatre: TBA
Coolidge Theatre: TBA
Regal Cinemas: Starting July 31 nationwide, local reopening unknown
Showcase Cinemas: TBA