NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The reopening of the cultural industry in New Bedford is welcome news to many as the city tries to address a significant increase in its unemployment rate.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said Thursday that the city is moving forward with Phase 3 of Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to reopen the state’s economy.
He hopes that as businesses reopen, the city’s 24% unemployment rate will improve.
“We’ve never experienced anything that dramatic, even during the Great Depression,” Mitchell said. “Now we can start bringing people back. So let the word go forth that New Bedford’s cultural sector, its arts sector, is back in business.”
As part of Phase 3, New Bedford’s museums, as well as its other arts and cultural facilities, are once again allowed to open their doors to visitors.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum reopened to members only on Thursday, and intends to reopen to the public on July 23. The museum will be open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We are in the business of connecting to the community,” President of the New Bedford Whaling Museum Amanda McMullen said. “The days, weeks, and years ahead are likely to bring numerous financial hardships and economic challenges, but we are invigorated knowing that our organizations will light the path forward emotionally, creatively, and financially.”
Mitchell emphasized the importance of the cultural industry in New Bedford. He said the reopening of the city’s museums will attract visitors, which will in turn boost business.
“New Bedford’s cultural community is so important, not only to New Bedford’s economy, but also the the city’s culture, to the region’s culture and to its sense of identity,” he said.
Mitchell said the city will follow state guidelines for this industry, including social distancing guidelines, limitations on capacity, mask wearing and disinfecting protocols.
When asked about the free COVID-19 testing site coming to the city, Mitchell said, “I’m not sure exactly why New Bedford was selected,” but that the city will make the most of the opportunity.
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