Business restrictions relaxed; UMass sees surge in cases

BOSTON (AP) — Many Massachusetts businesses are allowed to welcome more customers starting Monday as Gov. Charlie Baker relaxes restrictions meant to control spread of the coronavirus.

Restaurants, gyms, museums, and movie theaters are among the businesses that can increase capacity from 25% to 40%.

The relaxed rules also apply to houses of worship.

The rules were loosened because of the progress made in fighting the pandemic, Baker has said, although he urged continued vigilance.

Health experts have expressed concern about another spike in cases sparked by Super Bowl parties, as well as the rise of more transmissible variants of COVID-19.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is moving all classes online and requiring students to stay in their residences for at least two weeks in response to a surge in new coronavirus cases.

The university raised its COVID-19 risk level to “high” after nearly 300 students tested positive for the disease over a three-day period last week, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said in a statement.

Students who live both on campus and off are required to stay at home except for coronavirus testing, meals and medical reasons, the school said.

“Failure to comply will result in disciplinary action, which may include removal from residence halls and/or suspension,” the school said.

The school has also suspended all varsity sports games and practices for two weeks.

“Let this moment be a stark reminder to any of you who may have been cavalier about COVID-19 that your individual behavior has a profound impact on everyone in your community,” Subbaswamy said.

The restrictions will only be lifted when public health conditions improve substantially, the school said.

Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News, Regional News