Cases low, precautions important as towns move into phase 3

Jul 8, 2020

Gyms, museums, libraries and theaters are allowed to open in phase three of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan, but not all of them will.

The phase started on July 6. While cases are currently low, with 37 in Mattapoisett and 39 in Rochester since the pandemic started, health officials are still concerned about enforcing social distancing to make the public as safe as possible. There are no active cases in Marion at this time. 

They have been working with businesses like Outdoor World, Captain Bonney’s, the YMCA, the Kittansett Club and the Beverly Yacht Club to open or to tweak procedures for safety.

Gyms open in phase three, including Boutique Fitness, which has been doing virtual classes and Zoom personal training sessions while its storefront has been closed.

“I have never worked so hard in my life,” Co-owner Lara Harrington said, because she felt the pressure to both keep her coaches engaged and stay positive for her clients.

Harrington’s trainers started private sessions with trainees on July 6. Though the maximum class size in the small gym is four, the co-owner said it is best to follow all the protocol that the governor releases, even if it limits her business for a little longer.

She also rearranged the entrances and marked the floor so clients know how to enter and where to stand during a workout.

Museums are also allowed to open under the new phase of the state’s plan.

The Rochester History Museum Board of Directors met on July 7 to talk about the future of the museum, and decided not to reopen for much of the summer and fall. It may allow history enthusiasts one chance to see the exhibit that is currently on display in August. 

Meanwhile, the Mattapoisett Museum has already decided not to open a new exhibit or hold any of its programs this summer. It announced the decision in a newsletter on June 23.

Sippican Historical Society will open its doors back up to the public on July 11.

Its Executive Director and Archivist Leslie Piper said since the museum is small, it will limit total attendance to 10 people and visitors to eight to allow for a docent or two.

She could have opened on July 6, but waited a week “to be sure that everything was going to go according to plan.”

Two of her regular volunteers are over 70 and have opted not to volunteer for the time being. Piper said it is too bad because they know a lot, “but I completely understand and support them.”

While procedures for businesses and contact tracing are going well, some officials are still concerned about residents respecting safety precautions.

At a Marion Board of Health meeting on July 7, Health Nurse Kathy Downey and Health Agent David Flaherty both had gotten complaints about lack of social distancing at Silvershell Beach.

The board discussed having the Recreation Department and Police Department step up monitoring and talking with the Town Administrator about possibly hiring a security guard for the beach if the trend continues.

Mattapoisett Health Nurse Emily Field said that though there are stray cases here and there, residents are doing a great job at keeping the numbers low.

“There is a lot to accept and put into practice with the extensive phase three guidelines that just came out,” Field said, but she and the Board of Health are working to optimize public safety and educate the public.

Keeping numbers down “will continue to require everyone working together, by social distancing, keeping face coverings on, washing hands and seeking treatment if symptomatic,” the nurse added.

Rochester’s Health Nurse Connie Dolan said contract tracing is going well, other than a few computer communication issues (in April, Rochester appeared to have the first Tri-Town death from the virus before it was determined to be a computer error).

“They are very well-trained at the state level and do a good job,” Dolan said, of contact tracers.

Mattapoisett Health Agent Kayla Davis also said businesses were doing well with reopening, as did Rochester Health Director Karen Walega.