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Massachusetts businesses celebrate reopening; public health experts warn it’s ‘too early’ to ease restrictions

Business owners are cautiously optimistic after nearly a year of pandemic-era shutdowns as Massachusetts takes a major step forward in reopening its economy on Monday, but public health leaders warn it’s still too soon to start easing restrictions.

Concert halls and theaters that closed last March can reopen — with limited capacity — and restaurants will be able to bring in live music and will no longer be bound by capacity limits as the state resumes Phase 3, Step 2, of its reopening this week.

Then, beginning March 22, sports fans will be welcomed back into stadiums in limited numbers for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit last year and wedding and event venues will be allowed to host larger gatherings.

“This is recognizing how far we’ve come with vaccination and low positivity rates and knowing things are getting better,” said Jon Hurst of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, which represents more than 4,000 small businesses. “As we approach the one-year anniversary, that’s an important message that the governor is giving and we appreciate that.”

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