Aerial photo of the Mid-Cambridge and Riverside neighborhoods at sunset

Reopening Cambridge

The City of Cambridge and Commonwealth of Massachusetts are working to safely reopen the economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. Information on plans, guidelines, and guidance for different sectors of the economy will be available here and updated often. The City of Cambridge will release further information on City-specific orders that will supplement the State’s recommendations when necessary. Cambridge businesses planning to reopen must adhere to all Massachusetts regulations, in addition to any additional guidance issued by the City. Interested in learning which Cambridge businesses are opening, offer outdoor dining, etc? View Business List

Updates

Sector-Specific Plans & Guidelines

Below is not an exhaustive list and more detailed information from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be found here.

Phase 1

Manufacturing - Eligible to Reopen May 18, 2020

Higher Education - Eligible to Reopen May 25, 2020

Higher education institutions began repopulating laboratory and/or clinical settings that may already be accustomed to following strict protocols for infection control. In addition, small numbers of students, staff and faculty may return to campus in this phase as-needed to help prepare for repopulation across future phases. Learn more.

Places of Worship - Eligible to Reopen May 18, 2020

Car Washes - Eligible to Reopen May 25, 2020

Construction - Phased Reopening Begins in Cambridge May 25, 2020

 

The City of Cambridge will expand currently allowed construction activity in the City in four phases*:

  • Phase 1, beginning May 25, will add site safety prep work for projects previously permitted by Inspectional Services (ISD) and Public Works (DPW). Forthcoming amendments to the City’s Temporary Emergency Construction Order issued on March 18 will modify the definition of essential construction to include work associated with COVID-19 restaurant modification needed to allow them to safely reopen;
  • Phase 2, beginning on June 1, will add horizontal construction, city building projects, 100% affordable housing developments, larger buildings (over 25,000 square feet) previously permitted by ISD or DPW;
  • Phase 3, beginning on June 15, will add all remaining existing construction previously permitted by ISD and DPW;
  • Phase 4a, beginning on June 22, will add new permits for horizontal construction, roof, solar, siding, asbestos, and trade permits including plumbing, gas, mechanical, sheet metal, electrical and sprinkler. Permits may be submitted, and pre-reviews will occur at any time, but permits will not be formally accepted or issued until this date; and
  • Phase 4b, beginning June 29, will add new Building Permits (addition/alteration, new construction, demolition).  Permits may be submitted, and pre-reviews will occur at any time, but permits will not be formally accepted or issued until this date.

*Updated June 16, 2020.

 

Important City Guidelines & Information:

 

General Retail - Eligible to Reopen May 25, 2020

  • Eligible to reopen May 25, 2020
  • Retail (such as clothing stores, toy stores, jewelry stores, nurseries and garden centers that don’t sell food products, adult use cannabis stores)
  • For curbside pickup and delivery only.
  • View Full Business List by category and reopening date (Mass.gov)
  • View City of Cambridge Contact List for Reopening by category showing who to contact in which department for questions/help reopening your establishment
 

Hair Salons / Barbershops - Eligible to Reopen May 25, 2020

 

Important City Information:

Laboratories - Eligible to Reopen May 25, 2020

Pet Grooming - Eligible to Reopen May 25, 2020

Office Spaces - Eligible to Reopen May 25, 2020; Delay until June 1 Requested in Cambridge

 

Important City Information:

Phase 2

Beer gardens/breweries/wineries/distilleries (with seated food service) - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

Child and youth serving programs - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

On June 1, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) released the Minimum Requirements for Health and Safety, which sets forth the minimum requirements that programs must meet in order to reopen. 
 
The minimum requirements apply to all child and youth serving programs, including child care programs regulated by EEC, recreational camps regulated by DPH, and municipal or recreational youth programs not traditionally licensed as camps that are seeking to operate during the phased plan of Reopening Massachusetts. Note: Residential camps and other overnight stays are not permitted to open until further notice. Learn more.

 

Important Information & Documents

Driving and flight schools - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

Behind the wheel training.

Funeral Homes - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

40% capacity limit; one service at a time in the facility.

 

Important Information & Documents:

Higher education (students, staff and faculty for limited purposes) - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

Higher education institutions may begin to allow students, staff and faculty to return to campus for the limited purposes of permitting students to complete a degree, program, or prerequisite for employment, or other similar requirement for completion, for summer youth programming including athletic facilities, and any necessary supporting services. Learn more.

In home installations - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

Non construction related – e.g., carpet installation, home theaters, security systems.

Hotels, motels, and other lodging businesses - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

No events, functions, or meetings.

 

Important Information & Documents:

Non-athletic instructional classes in arts / education / life skills - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

Youths under 18 years of age, in groups of fewer than 10.

Occupational Schools and Testing Centers - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

During Phase II of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan, occupational schools and testing centers are permitted to open their brick-and-mortar premises to the public for the limited purposes of permitting students to complete a degree, program, or prerequisite for employment, or other similar requirement for completion. Learn more.

Personal services without close personal contact - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

Such as home cleaning, photography, window washing, career coaching and education tutoring.

Restaurants: outdoor seating - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020; Indoor table service - Eligible to Reopen June 22

Retail businesses: browsing inside stores - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

 

Important Information & Documents:

Warehouse and distribution centers - Eligible to Reopen June 8, 2020

Close Contact Personal Services - Eligible to Reopen June 22

Such as massage therapy, nail salons, tattoo parlors, electrolysis studios

Personal Trainers - Eligible to Reopen June 22

Appointment-only training with only one customer (or two from the same household) allowed in the facility at a time.

Phase 3 Step 1

Aquariums

 

Casino gaming floors

 

Fishing and hunting tournaments and other amateur or professional derbies

 

Fitness centers and health clubs

 

Indoor and Outdoor Gaming Arcades - Eligible to Reopen September 17

Horse racing tracks and simulcast facilities

 

Indoor event spaces such as meeting rooms, ballrooms, and private party rooms--only when used for functions or events permitted under Sector-Specific Rules for Indoor and Outdoor Events

 

Indoor historic spaces/sites

 

Indoor non-athletic instructional classes in arts/education/life skills for persons 18 years or older

 

Indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact: batting cages, driving ranges, go karts, bowling alleys, rock-climbing walls

 

Indoor recreational and athletic facilities for general use

 

Motion picture, television, and video streaming production

 

Movie theaters

 

Museums

 

Outdoor event spaces used for gatherings and celebrations including those in parks, reservations, and other outdoor spaces not designated as Phase IV enterprises

  • View detailed guidance for reopening (Mass.gov)
    •  Coastal and Inland Beaches
    • Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities
    • Public and Semi-Public Swimming Pools
      Parks, Open Space, and Outdoor Education Programs
    • Playgrounds, Spray Decks and Outdoor Fitness Areas
    • Recreational Boating and Boating Businesses
    • Hunter Education
    • Zoos, Botanical Gardens, Wildlife Reserves, Nature Centers
    • Outdoor Recreational Experiences and Educational Activities
    • Campgrounds
    • EEA Outdoor Recreation Facility Restroom Cleaning Best Practices
    • Outdoor Recreation Reopening Presentation
    • General Business Guidance
    • Drive-In Theaters
  • View Full Business List by category and reopening date (Mass.gov)
  • View City of Cambridge Contact List for Reopening by category showing who to contact in which department for questions/help reopening your establishment
 

Outdoor theaters and other outdoor performance venues not designated as Phase IV enterprises

 

Post-Secondary/Higher Ed/Vocational-Tech/Trade/Occupational Schools-general operations

 

Sightseeing and other organized tours (bus tours, duck tours, harbor cruises, whale
watching)

 

Reopening K-12 Schools

Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance

On June 25, 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts released its Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance.

View Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance (Mass.gov)

Health and safety requirements and related guidance for in-person learning

The following is an excerpt from the Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance released on June 25, 2020 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

 

At this time, these are the health and safety practices that will enable the safe reopening of schools for in-person learning this fall. These requirements will be modified as needed during the summer and into the fall.  In addition to required practices, we have also included guidance on best practices where applicable.

 

As general background, COVID-19 spreads when people are in relatively close proximity, through respiratory droplets generated through coughing, sneezing, or talking to an infected person. Among the most effective preventive measures – when used consistently and in combination – are masks/face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.[i]

 

Masks/face coverings: As the primary route of transmission for COVID-19 is respiratory,[ii] [iii] [iv] masks or face coverings are among the most critical components of risk reduction.[v] [vi] [vii] Masks/face coverings protect the general public against COVID-19 infection,[viii] with a recent retrospective study estimating near 80% effectiveness in reducing COVID-19 transmission, especially when worn prior to symptom onset.[ix] In the United States, states advising face masks/face coverings be worn in public saw a decline in their COVID-19 growth rates,[x] and community-wide mask/face covering usage contributed to control of COVID-19 in Hong Kong.[xi] At this time, our initial requirements and related guidance are as follows:

  • Students in grade 2 and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth. Students in kindergarten and grade 1 should be encouraged to wear a mask/face covering.[xii] Face shields may be an option for those students with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings. Transparent masks may be the best option for both teachers and students in classes for deaf and hard of hearing students. They may also be useful for teachers and younger students who rely on visual / facial cues.
  • Adults, including educators and staff, are required to wear masks/face coverings.
  • Exceptions to mask/face covering requirements must be made for those for whom it is not possible due to medical conditions, disability impact, or other health or safety factors.
  • Mask breaks should occur throughout the day.[xiii] Breaks should occur when students can be six feet apart and ideally outside or at least with the windows open. Further guidance on mask breaks including duration and frequency will be forthcoming, as well as more information about properly removing and putting on masks.
  • Masks/face coverings should be provided by the student/family, but extra disposable face masks should be made available by the school for students who need them. Reusable masks/face coverings provided by families should be washed by families daily. Districts and schools with families experiencing financial hardship and unable to afford masks/face coverings should endeavor to provide masks for students through grant funds described earlier in this document.
  • Masks/face coverings are required to be worn by everyone on the bus during school bus transportation.
  • Transparent face coverings provide the opportunity for more visual cues and should be especially considered as an alternative for younger students, students who are deaf and hard of hearing, and their teachers.

 

Physical distancing: Physical distancing is another important practice that helps mitigate transmission of the virus. While the U.S. federal CDC has recommended maintaining a physical distance of six feet between individuals,[xiv] the World Health Organization’s guidance states approximately three feet.[xv] There is no precise threshold for safety; indeed, studies suggest that physical distancing of three feet or more leads to reduced transmission, with additional distance providing additional protection. [xvi] [xvii] For instance, in a study of household transmission in China, keeping at least three feet of distance was associated with one-fourth the number of transmissions.[xviii] It is important to note that six feet distancing is emphasized in public health advisories especially when no mask/face covering is worn.

 

We encourage districts and schools to aim for six feet of distance between individuals where feasible. At the same time, a minimum physical distance of three feet has been established when combined with the other measures outlined in this list of safety requirements. Because of the reduced susceptibility in children and lower apparent rates of transmission, establishing a minimum physical distance of three feet is informed by evidence and balances the lower risk of COVID-19 transmission and the overarching benefits of in-person school.

 

View full Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance (Mass.gov)



[i] CDC, How COVID-19 spreads. (2020, June 16). Available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html

[ii] Zhang, Renyi, et al. "Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020).

[iii] CDC., et al. "Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children—United States, February 12–April 2, 2020." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 69.14 (2020): 422.

[iv] World Health Organization. Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations: scientific brief, 27 March 2020. No. WHO/2019-nCoV/Sci_Brief/Transmission_modes/2020.1. World Health Organization, 2020. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations

[v] Wang, Y., Tian, H., Zhang, L., Zhang, M., Guo, D., Wu, W., ... & Liu, B. (2020). Reduction of secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households by face mask use, disinfection and social distancing: a cohort study in Beijing, China. BMJ Global Health, 5(5), e002794. Available at https://gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/5/5/e002794.full.pdf

[vi] Lyu, W. and Wehby, G. L.  (2020). Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US. Health Affairs. Available at https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00818

[vii] Cheng, V. C., Wong, S. C., Chuang, V. W., So, S. Y., Chen, J. H., Sridhar, S., ... & Yuen, K. Y. (2020). The role of community-wide wearing of face mask for control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic due to SARS-CoV-2. Journal of Infection. Available at https://www.journalofinfection.com/article/S0163-4453(20)30235-8/pdf

[viii] Chu, D.K., Akl, E.A., Duda S., Solo K., Yaacoub S., Schunemann H.J. (2020)  Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  The Lancet

[ix] Wang, Y., Tian, H., Zhang, L., Zhang, M., Guo, D., Wu, W., ... & Liu, B. (2020). Reduction of secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households by face mask use, disinfection and social distancing: a cohort study in Beijing, China. BMJ Global Health, 5(5), e002794. Available at https://gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/5/5/e002794.full.pdf

[x] Lyu, W. and Wehby, G. L.  (2020). Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US. Health Affairs. Available at https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00818

[xi] Cheng, V. C., Wong, S. C., Chuang, V. W., So, S. Y., Chen, J. H., Sridhar, S., ... & Yuen, K. Y. (2020). The role of community-wide wearing of face mask for control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic due to SARS-CoV-2. Journal of Infection. Available at https://www.journalofinfection.com/article/S0163-4453(20)30235-8/pdf

[xii] http://www.sickkids.ca/PDFs/About-SickKids/81407-COVID19-Recommendations-for-School-Reopening-SickKids.pdf (if masks are worn incorrectly, they may increase infection risk). See also: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/covid-wwksf/what-we-know-public-masks-apr-7-2020.pdf?la=en

[xiii] Chu, D.K., Akl, E.A., Duda S., Solo K., Yaacoub S., Schunemann H.J. (2020)  Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  The Lancet (the challenges of constant mask wearing include “frequent discomfort”)

[xiv] CDC, Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation. (2020, May 6). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

[xv] WHO, Considerations for school-related public health measures in the context of COVID-19. (2020, May 10). Available at https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/considerations-for-school-related-public-health-measures-in-the-context-of-covid-19

[xvi] Chu, D.K., Akl, E.A., Duda S., Solo K., Yaacoub S., Schunemann H.J. (2020)  Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  The Lancet

[xvii] Zhang, J., Litvinova, M., Liang, Y., Wang, Y., Wang, W., Zhao, S., ... & Ajelli, M. (2020). Changes in contact patterns shape the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in China. Science. Available at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/05/04/science.abb8001

[xviii] Wang, Y., Tian, H., Zhang, L., Zhang, M., Guo, D., Wu, W., ... & Liu, B. (2020). Reduction of secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households by face mask use, disinfection and social distancing: a cohort study in Beijing, China. BMJ Global Health, 5(5), e002794. Available at https://gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/5/5/e002794.full.pdf

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