Businesses allowed to increase capacities

Theaters, retail shops, restaurants allowed up to 40 percent capacity.

Richard Paradise of the MV Film Society, shown here at a 2019 event, says despite being allowed to have as many as 50 people in his theater he's keeping capacity at 40 maximum. — Rich Saltzberg

Updated 5 pm

Following several weeks of reduced hospitalizations, fewer new cases of COVID-19, and lower positivity rates, restaurants, museums, and gyms are allowed to have up to 40 percent capacity.

In addition to restaurants, retail, and gyms, other businesses allowed to go to 40 percent capacity include driving schools and libraries. Movie theaters will also be allowed 40 percent capacity, but are limited to 50 people per theater. Capacity for offices, houses of worship, hair salons will also rise from 25 percent to 40 percent. The increased capacity went into effect Monday at 5 am. 

Baker’s 25 percent capacity restriction went into effect on Dec. 26. Even with eased capacity restrictions, Baker is still keeping indoor gatherings limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people.

Aside from a rush after Christmas, Green Room manager Belinda Ritchie told The Times capacity restrictions have not been a huge issue for the store. This past weekend, the store had a brief moment where capacity was maxed out, but Ritchie said it was only for a moment.

“It’s still fairly quiet, but it’s been steady,” she said. 

Richard Paradise, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, told The Times in an email the Film Society is at a 40 seat maximum despite being allowed 50 seats. The theater has not had a screening with more than 20 people since last October and the average audience for their winter screenings has been two to four people.

“Past year has been very challenging to say the least — our entire business model changed — we were down 75% in earned revenue for the entire 2020 vs 2019.  We’ve had added costs of cleaning and other COVID protocols,” Paradise wrote in part.

The Film Society has pivoted to meet its mission of films, education, and events. The organization created a film streaming platform for people at home, a free online YouTube educational workshop on film literacy, provided filmmaker Q&As through Zoom, and still held film festivals online and in person.

“We are blessed to have a community of film-lovers and Film Society members who support our missions so our donations in 2020 increased significantly to allow us to stay open and keep our staff fully employed,” Paradise wrote.

10 new COVID cases over the weekend

The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend—five on Saturday and five on Sunday—and no new cases on Monday.

There are 48 active cases on the Island, according to an expanded Friday report from the boards of health.

On Friday, the hospital confirmed two additional staff members tested positive for COVID-19. 

A week earlier, five hospital employees tested positive for COVID-19 — three after coming in contact with an infected patient and two from community spread. Of the two additional cases, one is connected to the COVID-positive patient and the other is connected to community spread.

The hospital has conducted 12,934 tests for COVID-19 since March. Of those, 610 have tested positive, 12,291 negative, and 33 are pending results.

There are currently three patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Two are in “good condition,” and one who was admitted last week is in “fair condition,” according to hospital communications specialist Marissa Lefevbre.

As of Monday, TestMV has conducted 32,223 tests since June. Of those, 247 have tested positive, 30,881 negative, and 1,095 are pending results.

Phase two, which began on Feb. 1, includes and begins with individuals 75 years and older. Hospital patients can sign up through Patient Gateway. Non-hospital patients can fill out an attestation form from the state’s website. Visit to access the form.

The state has set up a call center for individuals 75 and older without access to the internet or who are unable to schedule their appointment online can call toll free 2-1-1 or 877-211-6277 for assistance.

The hospital is scheduling its oldest patients first, per the latest guidance from the Massachusetts department of health in phase two group one which are individuals 75 years and older.

Phase two group two will consist of individuals 65 years and older and two or more comorbidities. 

“The initial plan from the state was to vaccinate based on age and comorbidities (75 and older, 65 and older, individuals with 2 or more comorbidities) then last week the state made the adjustment for only 75+, based on age,” Lefevbre wrote in an email.

There were four new probable cases since Friday bringing the Island’s total to 53 since March.

The town of Aquinnah has conducted 416 tests, of which one has come back positive, 409 negative and six pending results.

The Martha’s Vineyard public schools have tested 2,808 individuals. The boards of health did not have updated data on school testing, but Tisbury health agent and boards of health spokesperson Maura Valley wrote in an email there were no new positive cases. The public school data is updated once a week.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has reported a total of seven positive cases of COVID-19.

Due to how tests are conducted, there can be a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been reported since the end of October, when the Island’s first cluster of cases was linked to a wedding in October. Since then, the Island has seen 779 cases of COVID-19 — several times the 89 cases reported on the Island between when testing began in March.

In addition to the wedding cluster, which reported eight cases, clusters at Cronig’s Market, with 19 cases, and a Bible study group, with 11 cases, have also been reported.

New clusters were reported last week with a five-case cluster at the hospital and a four case cluster at Project Headway.

On the state level Monday, there were 1,276 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The state’s seven-day average of percent positivity continues to drop and is now at 2.96 percent — a steep decline from 8 percent high in early January. There are an estimated 58,439 active cases statewide. There were 55 new deaths, for a total of 14,753 COVID-19 deaths since March.

Updated with Monday COVID data — Ed.