Today, Governor Charlie Baker and his associates released their four-part approach to reopening Massachusetts while still focused on the fight against COVID-19.
This plan consists of four phases. These phases will each last three to four weeks or longer, and depends on what data continues to show over time. Each phase will lay out how and when businesses can open and what individuals can continue to do to stop the spread of the virus.
Phase 1 is the ‘reopening’ stage, and it begins today. This means some businesses will open today, May 18th, some on May 25th, and some on June 1st. In order for this to occur, businesses will need to follow the strict cautionary guidelines given.
The changes beginning today are as follows: places of worship can begin opening, and manufacturing facilities and construction sites are able to open.
Beginning on May 25th, healthcare providers will be able to give diagnostic and treatment procedures, offices will be allowed to open up to 25% of their capacity (except for those in Boston), and retail establishments may offer curbside services. Some personal care services will reopen, such as hair salons and pet grooming. Limited outdoor and recreational facilities can also reopen.
The changes beginning on June 1st (two weeks from today) include Boston office spaces reopening, and healthcare facilities seeing more patients, following a provided schedule.
Phase 2 is the ‘cautious’ stage. Updated guidelines will be provided to businesses and the people in accordance with how the data looks at that time.
Many outdoor activities will reopen with guidelines. These include community pools, campgrounds, playgrounds, athletic fields, and youth sports. Also, restaurants, retail, and additional personal services will open with precautions and capacity limits.
Phase 3 is the ‘vigilant’ stage. Again, updated guidelines will be given so it is clear what should be done to stay safe.
It is planned that bars will reopen along with businesses in the arts and entertainment sectors. These are facilities such as gyms and museums, among others. These places will be required to open with capacity limits and strict safety guidelines.
Phase 4 is the ‘new normal’. This will come following the other three stages. This is aimed to bring the state back into life without restrictions.
As these phases continue, once a week a dashboard will be released with data on COVID-19 in Massachusetts. This will be a stoplight of sorts with green, yellow, and red lights. These will be indicators of positive (green) neutral (yellow) or negative (red) showings of the data. The data being shown will indicate: the number of deaths, the number of hospitalized patients, the readiness of the healthcare system, and the testing capacity.
Finally, Baker and his associates made the point very clear that being able to progress through the phases depends on the cooperation of the people. Baker believes everyone needs to continue to be aware of the symptoms and stay home when possible. He encouraged Massachusetts residents to continue social distancing (6 feet apart), wear face coverings when social distancing is not an option, and to wash hands and keep surfaces clean.
“Today as we start the phase return to our new normal, we are going to ask people once again to rise to the occasion as we continue to fight this virus,” said Governor Baker. “Our collective success depends on everyone; government, private sector, and especially individuals playing their part to move us forward.”