Some Massachusetts business owners are gearing up to open their doors next month after the state relaxed COVID-19 restrictions this week.
Bars not serving food have been ordered closed since the early days of the pandemic, more than a year ago. New state guidance has them on pace to open with restrictions in place May 29.
"Obviously, it's the light shining at the end of the tunnel," said Brian Stahl, who manages two bars in Amherst.
Bars will have to follow the same rules as restaurants, including keeping parties spread out. He said one of his businesses will stay closed until all restrictions are scheduled to end in August.
"It's almost impossible at McMurphy's to get a true 6-foot clearance to the bathrooms, and then in between tables, in between the bar where the servers would walk, and in between customers of course."
Stahl said his other bar, Stackers, has more space and plans to open at the end of May. He said hiring workers will be tricky, since much of Amherst's workforce is college students and many are leaving town soon.
On May 10, amusement parks will also be able to open their gates. Six Flags New England in Agawam said guests will be required to make reservations and wear masks, and they'll be spread out when they go on rides.
"We accomplish social distancing on the rides really by assigning specific seats and we leave enough seats, or enough rows empty in between various groups of guests to ensure we can maintain that appropriate social distance," park president Pete Carmichael said.
The relaxed rules could also affect the Big E in West Springfield. Organizers of the fair said the state's announcement is an important step in being able to hold the event in September.