Gov. Baker this morning announced the first phase of re-opening the state: Starting today, factories and construction sites can re-open - provided they take steps to protect workers, such as social distancing and liberal dispensing of masks and access to sinks for frequent hand washing.. Houses of worship can also re-open with more limited seating.
Next week, offices can reopen, to 25% capacity, except in Boston, where they will have to wait until June 1, as part of Baker's overall four-phase plan, each phase of which might happen about three weeks apart.
Also on May 25, retail stores can open with new rules - such as curbside pickup. And barbers and hairdressers: Get your scissors sharpened for that date.
The next phase, which might follow in three weeks, would include hotels, restaurants, and nail salons and day spas, with capacity reductions.
Phase 3, possibly three weeks after that, would include bars and restaurant dining rooms, casinos, museums and gyms, again with capacity reductions.
The final phase would include nightclubs and large venues.
All re-opening businesses will have to have Covid-19 plans that include details of how they will protect workers and customers. The state will not actively enforce these, but will respond to complaints from workers and customers, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said. She said the goal is not to fine businesses but to help them into compliance - although she cautioned fines could come if a business gets repeated complaints.
She added the state is setting up a portal to connect employers with manufacturers that can supply face masks and other sanitary supplies. The state is not setting up a portal through which workers and the public can file complaints; Polito said they should call their local board of health.
A key part of the plan is encouraging employers to let workers continue to work at home and to stagger shifts to reduce the load on the MBTA. Polito said the T will, initially, continue to run reduced service - and will drone public-health messages into rider's ears over and over.
The state also has a new "safer at home" advisory that urges all people to stay home whenever possible - don't go wild with road trips. People over 65 should just stay home, except for "essential" trips to the supermarket or doctor.
Baker said there will be at least three weeks between each of the plan's four phases, to give officials time to look at public-health data to ensure things are still going as well as possible in a state that has now had some 5,800 deaths from the virus - and to deal with any possible flare-ups.
From Reopening Massachusetts:
Baker, who prefaced his announcement by noting the terrible toll the virus has taken on Massachusetts - only New York, New Jersey and maybe Michigan have been hit harder - said that even as the state shifts from requiring people to do things to more of a reliance on "personal responsibility," he is hoping people will continue the practices he said helped flattened the curve: Hand washing, face covering, social distancing and staying at home as much as possible. Otherwise, he said, the state might face a new Covid-19 spike in the fall.
And he emphasized he will continue to be guided by public-health data in deciding whether any pullbacks might be needed.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said seats in current emergency child-care centers will begin to be opened to non-emergency workers. She said that currently, these centers have room for 10,000 kids, but is currently only serving 3,500. She added details on re-opening all child-care centers - and the state's 1,400 summer camps, could come in the next couple of weeks.
More details on state plan.