Gov. Baker announces a four phase plan to reopen Massachusetts

BOSTON, M.A. (WLNE) – Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito addressed the Commonwealth this morning regarding a phased reopening place for the state of Massachusetts.

Residents were asked to rise to the occasion to do their part in aiding the reopening of the state throughout the phased plan.

A four phased plan was announced. It was stated that each phase will last at least three weeks and maybe longer if public health data does not support moving forward to the next phase.

The State of Massachusetts will partner with industries to draft sector-specific procedures in advance of future phases. For example, procedures and instructions for restaurants will be drafted in advance of Phase 2.

Effective Monday, May 18 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health updated the current Stay at Home Advisory, replacing it with a new “Safer at Home” Advisory. The new advisory asks every to remain at home unless they are going out to a newly opened facility or activity. Anyone over the age of 65 or with underlying health issues are asked to stay at home except for healthcare appointments and groceries shopping.

Public safety measures remain in effect and gatherings of more than 10 are still prohibited. Wearing face coverings, social distancing in public, reaming vigilant about routine hand washing and staying out of work if feeling sick are encouraged.

Current public health metrics prove that manufacturing facilities and construction sites can open effective May 18 with applicable guidelines.

In addition, places of worship will be able to open with social distancing guidelines and services are encouraged to be held outdoors.

Hospitals and health centers can begin high priority preventative care, pediatric care, and treatment for high risk patients while under strict safety standards.

Beginning May 25, additional sectors of the economy in Phase one will be allowed to open under a staggered approach.

These sectors include:

  • Lab space
  • Office space
  • Limited personal services, including hair salons, pet grooming, car washes.
  • Retail: remote fulfillment and curbside pick-up

Also permitted to open on May 25 with applicable guidelines, are the following:

  • Beaches
  • Parks
  • Drive-in movie theaters
  • Select athletic fields and courts
  •  Many outdoor adventure activities
  •  Most fishing, hunting, and boating
  • Outdoor gardens, zoos, reserves, and public installations.

On June 1 additional sectors are expected to open, including office spaces in the city of Boston with under specific guidelines.

With churches given the green light to open on Monday with 40 percent capacity, Pastor James Wills with Free Methodist Church in Seekonk said he’s excited to hold services again, as the Zoom meetings have been rough.

A large portion of his congregation are refugees.

“You would expect translation in French, Swahili, and Kirundi,” he said. “The virus is a threat, it’s a real threat. But we just don’t know, I wouldnt be able to tell you what the biggest challenge would be there.”

The town lists the church’s occupancy at 109, so Wills can only allow around 40 people inside for a service in the small chapel.

“Whether we meet outside somewhere or whether we meet here or whether we divide it up into two or three services, we do not know at the moment,” Wills said.

Pastor Wills believes churches in the state should not have closed its doors, but he understands why it happened as he said the virus is very serious.

“The fact that we’re officially allowed to meet is amazing when I think of the constitution,” he said. “I thought we were always allowed to meet as a church.”

Next week is the second round of openings in phase, which include businesses like hair salons.

For Dan Latham, owner of Blend Hair Studio in Seekonk, he thinks things may have gone over the top.

“I think I should’ve been able to open a month ago,” he said. “Public doesnt get enough credit for how smart they are and to take care of what they know to take care of.”

He said when it comes to barbers and hair salons, they already have a strict sanitation code they need to adhere by, so Latham thinks the reopening could’ve happened sooner.

“If I have a tool like a comb or a clipper or whatever, if it doesn’t go in my head, it’s not going in your head,” he said. “My mortgage still has to get paid, that’s essential. The electric bill is still paid here.”

Latham expects when things reopen next Monday, not much will change except the fact that nobody will be allowed in the waiting room.

He said once Gov. Baker made the announcement, his schedule filled up fast.

“We always operate 99 percent by appointments,” Latham told ABC 6. “So the only thing I can think of is that the distance between the appointment times are going to space a little.”

Industry specific guidance is available for businesses looking to reopen. Businesses are also required to comply with self-certification. Guidance for healthcare and childcare were also discussed.

Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News, Regional News