Baker: Parts of Massachusetts Economy May Reopen
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced today that manufacturing and construction businesses may reopen today during "Phase I" of a plan to restore the state's economy following COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for nearly two months.
Houses of worship may immediately resume religious services with restrictions, capacity limitations, and staggered start times.
Labs, personal services like hair salons, pet grooming, and car washes, and retail spaces may also open on May 25 with some restrictions. For instance, most retail may operate with curbside pickup only. Office spaces in Boston can open on June 1 with a 25 percent limit on the number of people who can show up to work.
Activities and outdoor locations like beaches, parks, drive-in theaters, some athletic fields and courts, most fishing, hunting, and boating will be accessible on May 25 for Memorial Day weekend, the administration announced at a State House press conference in Boston this morning.
A new set of mandatory safety restrictions will be in place for "essential businesses" that are already open, as well as for businesses given the green light to reopen in the coming days and weeks. The standards will be enforced by local boards of health, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Department of Labor Standards.
Baker's plan consists of four phases, each tentatively set to last about three weeks. Restaurants and lodging will receive permission to open with restrictions and some capacity limitations once phase two launches. Additional personal services like nail salons and day spas are also included in phase two.
When Phase III arrives, residents can expect bars, casinos, and all other business activities to resume with restrictions and capacity limitations. Large venues and nightclubs will remain closed during phase three.
During Phase IV, the state plans to enter into a "new normal" with full resumption of activities and business operations.
Progress will be measured against six data points. They include the COVID-19 positive test rate, the number of deaths from the virus, and health care system readiness. Government officials reserve the right to revert to a previous phase at any time.
Baker has previously emphasized that many employees should still consider working from home when possible.
The administration also released a new “Safer At Home” Advisory, which instructs residents to stay at home unless engaging with newly opened activities.
A new restaurant and tourism workgroup has been formed to determine industry-specific protocols for that sector, said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
The details are contained in Reopening Massachusetts, a report by Baker's 17-member reopening advisory board. It details a four-phased strategy that aims to responsibly reopen businesses and activities while continuing to fight COVID-19.
Polito and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy headed up the advisory board. The group heard testimony from more than 75 business associations, labor unions, non-profits, and coalitions that represent more than 112,000 businesses and more than two million employees.
The state continues to advise that people do not participate in close contact activities like pick-up sports games and should continue to use remote modes of communication instead of visiting high-risk friends or families.