Boston Enters Phase 3
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
As the second month of classes begin, Boston University students are still adjusting to the new normal of masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. Students living on campus are required to complete a daily COVID symptom survey and be tested twice a week. BU buildings now have directional pathways and each building’s maximum capacity has been reduced to comply with Massachusetts’s COVID guidelines. Despite these precautions, COVID cases have been increasing since students returned to campus in late August, although they are nowhere near the levels of April and May, when Massachusetts hit its peak. As of the week of October 14th, there have been an average of 636 new cases per day in Massachusetts, according to the New York Times. By comparison, there were an average of 334 new cases per day on the week of August 26th.
Boston began step one of phase three of reopening on July 13th. Phase 3 allows for indoor gatherings with a maximum of twenty-five people in a single enclosed space. BU has enforced this rule on campus, with students who gather in groups of 25 or more facing suspension for the rest of the semester. Outdoor gatherings in enclosed spaces are limited to 25% of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy, with a maximum of 100 people in a single enclosed outdoor space. This includes community events, civic events, sporting events, concerts, conventions and more. This order does not apply to outdoor, unenclosed gatherings; if proper social distancing measures are possible, there is not a strict capacity. Large capacity event venues will remain closed until phase 4 and indoor performance venues may be used for only activities without a live audience. Indoor movie theaters may open at 50% capacity overall for private and public screenings. BU is still limiting public events, with most classes, club meetings, and other social gatherings occurring virtually.
Fitness centers can open at 40% capacity, with exercise areas spaced 14 feet apart. They must also comply with other COVID guidelines by establishing directional pathways and installing visual markers. Common areas must be either closed or reconfigured to enforce social distancing guidelines. Disposable wipes must be provided next to all fitness equipment, which must be sanitized after each use. BU’s FitRec is complying with all of these guidelines, requiring students to register in advance for their workouts, comply with capacity guidelines, and provide staff with enough time to sanitize everything between guests.
Although Boston is still considered a COVID hot spot, low risk towns in Massachusetts have begun step two of phase three of reopening. This means that indoor and outdoor performance venues will be permitted to open at 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people. Additional Step II recreational spaces like trampolines, obstacle courses, roller rinks and laser tag will also be permitted to open at 50% capacity. The same is true for gyms, museums, libraries, and driving and flight schools. For Boston to reach step two, it must not be considered a “red” zone over three consecutive Department of Public Health weekly reports. “Red”, or high risk communities are classified as those which have more than eight COVID cases per 100,000 people. For the time being, it seems that Boston will remain in step one of phase three and students will have to continue carefully following public health guidelines.