The City of Cambridge announced Friday it will delay entering Step Two of Phase Three of Massachusetts’s reopening plan, after determining it would likely lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Cambridge.
Step Two of Phase Three of the reopening plan, which is set to take effect across the rest of the state Monday, will allow a number of sectors to reopen — including performance venues, gyms, museums, and libraries — all at 50 percent capacity.
Cambridge’s temporary emergency order will take effect Monday, delaying initiation of Step Two, and will remain in effect until further notice. A second emergency order limits the number of people in a single space in Cambridge to 50, whereas Step Two of Phase Three of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan would allow performance venues a maximum of 250 people.
In a joint statement, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale attributed Cambridge’s status as a low-risk community to the City’s “more conservative approach.”
“After consulting with the Commissioner of Public Health, Chief Public Health Officer, and the City’s COVID-19 Expert Advisory Panel, we are delaying Cambridge’s advancement to Step 2 Phase III,” they wrote. “Cambridge remains a low-risk community in part because we have taken a more conservative approach to reopening than the Commonwealth.”
“Our priority is to keep our residents safe,” they added.
The press release also stated there has been “a small uptick” in cases in September relative to August, though the average number of new cases has remained relatively stable. As of Sunday afternoon, there have been a total 1,418 positive cases of COVID-19 and 100 COVID-19 deaths in Cambridge.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 3,982 new cases and 114 deaths in Massachusetts over the past seven days as of Sunday evening. Additionally, the Commonwealth reported an uptick in its COVID-19 positive test rate.
Claude A. Jacob, chief public health officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department, wrote in the press release that the City wants to assess the impact of the start of fall and the school year on Cambridge’s infection rate, before moving forward with the next step.
“Before we advance the City to the next reopening step, we want to look closely at the impact on our current infection rate as residents start spending more time indoors during the fall months and as K-12 schools start reopening to in-person learning,” Jacob wrote.