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Hampden Daily Voice serves Chicopee, Holyoke, Palmer, Springfield & Westfield

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COVID-19: New Rules - The Strictest Yet - Force Restaurant To Close Temporarily

COVID-19 Photo Credit: Pixabay/Alexandra_Koch

Reduced occupancy restrictions in Massachusetts has led to the temporary closure of some restaurants that had been hanging on during COVID-19 but can’t sustain a business under the harsher conditions.

The new temporary regulations for Massachusetts take a particularly hard line on restaurants and events spaces, which had to cut back occupancy to 25 percent.

On Sunday, Jan. 3, for example, Smoke Stack Urban Barbecue in Worcester announced that it would be temporarily shutting down.

“Due to new government restrictions on occupancy and the levels of confidence in dining out, w have decided to temporarily shut down,” owners said on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

“This mini hibernation will be in effect until February and will be re-evaluated at that time to re-open.”

On Dec. 26, 2020, the newest and most restrictive measures went into effect in Massachusetts in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 - which is currently surging here and across the nation.

The new limits will be in place until Sunday, Jan. 10 unless they are extended further by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Here are the revised capacity limits that are in effect until at least Sunday. Where there is no licensed or permitted capacity allowance on records, the owner of an enclosed space with a larger facility, occupancy shall be no more than 5 people per 1,000 square feet.:

  • Gatherings/events - 10 people indoors or 25 outdoors (applies to private at-home events as well as event venues and public spaces)
  • Restaurants - 25 percent seating capacity (workers/staff are excluded fro the occupancy count and applies separately to indoor and outdoor capacity)
  • Close contact personal services - 25 percent occupancy (worker/staff excluded from occupancy count)
  • Theaters and performance venues - 25 percent occupancy and a maximum of 50 people in attendance
  • Casinos - 25 percent occupancy
  • Office space - 25 percent occupancy
  • Places of worship - 25 percent occupancy (workers/staff excluded from occupancy count)
  • Retail shops - 25 percent occupancy (workers/staff excluded from occupancy count)
  • Driving/flight schools - 25 percent occupancy
  • Golf -25 percent occupancy (applies only to indoor spaces)
  • Libraries - 25 percent occupancy
  • Hotels, motels, inns, etc. - 25 percent, applies only to common areas
  • Arcades and other indoor/outdoor recreation businesses - 25 percent occupancy
  • Fitness centers and gyms - 25 percent occupancy
  • Museums and cultural/historical facilities - 25 percent occupancy
  • Sectors not otherwise addressed - 25 percent occupancy.

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