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Baker: Companies with few face-to-face customer encounters will be first to be allowed to re-open later this month if coronavirus numbers continue down

COVID-19 Update: May 11, 2020

Gov. Baker today announced a four-phase plan for re-opening the state's economy after May 18, although he cautioned that the plan could quickly change if Covid-19 spikes in particular areas or businesses.

Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said exact details of which types of "non-essential" businesses can open and when will be released on May 18. He said that after then, there will no longer be "essential" and "non-essential" businesses, only businesses that can comply with new state regulations and those that can't.

Baker said Covid-19 numbers have recently been trending down, but "I think we'd like to see a few more days" of that and "then we'll make the call" about specific dates and industries.

In the first phase, businesses that had little direct customer contact in the past will be allowed to re-open, if they can show compliance with certain public-health guidelines and new regulations. The next phase will focus on businesses with a lot of direct customer contact, followed by a period of "vigilance" to see what is happening and, finally, what he called "the new normal."

Polito, who has been meeting with representatives of numerous types of businesses over the past week said that, in broad terms, many of the new workplace regulations will be the same that are in place with existing open businesses: Workers will have to wear masks, they and customers will be required to stay at least six feet apart where possible, companies will have to give workers frequent hand-washing breaks - and places to wash their hands - and the numbers of customers allowed in at any one time will be reduced. Regular sanitization of surfaces will also be a must.

She added that any workers who show a sign of illness need to go home.

Baker praised the vast majority of Massachusetts residents who have taken the virus seriously and stayed home, washed their hands, donned masks and the like for getting us to the point where we can even consider re-opening things, despite the fact that we remain one of the states hardest hit by the virus in terms of both cases and deaths.

Baker said people will have to keep it up even after May 18. "This is no time to quit," he said, adding that if the virus erupts in particular places, the state will move quickly to stamp it out, possibly in terms of shutting some things down again.

Baker was asked about the "pandemonium" at that Cape ice-cream place caused by some customers being assholes.

He said he understands the frustration - he said he misses playing basketball - but said most people are good and kind and that he hopes that will continue.

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Comments

In the guidelines we heard today, the problem remains common sense.

If an outside recreational club chooses to open in Phase One, they still have to get by the local Board of Health. So if a hiking club wants to organize an event in the Blue Hills, or a gun club wants to re-open outside activities in Burlington, great. They can define the activities well within the guidelines we've all come to expect and accept.

But all it takes to quash that is a local Board of Health, with either a lack of common sense, or a grudge, or a whim. When that happens, what's the appeal process? How do you get around localized stupidity in a case like that?

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Arlington held a "everyone stand out on Mass Ave to honor this deceased veteran" event during the height of the closures, and the health department (run by someone who did not have an education in public health, but public administration) approved this.

It works both ways.

The real issue is that local control has left local health departments with a lot of responsibility, few resources, and varying accountability. There has been a study of the issues this has caused and we may see regionaliatizon or a return to the county systems that most states have soon.

https://www.mass.gov/orgs/special-commission-on-local-and-regional-publi...

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The real issue is that local control has left local health departments with a lot of responsibility, few resources, and varying accountability.

There is 100% accountability if the voters want that. The voters can choose a government that places the public health department under the leadership of qualified individuals with a public health background, or they can choose a government that appoints hacks, or they can simply fail to carry out their responsibility as participants in a democracy by failing to be informed and engaged.

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Should we make policies based on an idealistic vision of government (your thing) or in a way that will likely have the best chance for success (state imposed regulations vs local.)

When it comes to health policies, there is simply no support for the concept that Littleton, Everett and Leominster should have wildly different, locally designed covid-19 policies. Hire the best people available at the state level to create and dictate health policies - this isn't deciding if a park space should have tennis courts or a dog park or a playground or something best decided by local gov't.

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Welcome to the Libertarian side, brother.

See what happens when you apply logic and write things out, folks?

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but i haven't been able to suss out a coherent point from any of your posts. maybe i'm just not active enough on here - but i really especially don't get this comment. was it facetious? care to elaborate?

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So if a hiking club wants to organize an event in the Blue Hills, or a gun club wants to re-open outside activities in Burlington, great. They can define the activities well within the guidelines we've all come to expect and accept.

But all it takes to quash that is a local Board of Health, with either a lack of common sense, or a grudge, or a whim.

The guy (or lady?) acknowledges that someone with government fiat can and will obstruct the activities of consenting adults.

I don't have an obvious-to-me example in Massachusetts at the moment, but, hell, it's happening in California right now: Every horse track in the state has closed except for one, because the Orange County BoH didn't see fit to make the one located there close, but the BoH in LA and Alameda counties did.

So, it's not safe for horsepeople (the tracks were/are running without spectators) to convene to conduct races in Arcadia and in Albany, CA, but it's safe in Cypress, CA? Nobody's shown symptoms or tested positive at any of those work areas, but only one won't be confronted by people carrying firearms if they conduct races.

This isn't science, this is government picking winners.

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This isn't science, this is government picking winners.

No, this is different governmental bodies coming to different conclusions about things. It's not any crazier to talk about it on the county level than, say, the governments of the United States and Canada deciding to have different laws that affect their citizens. I don't see how it would be any better in your eyes if the state government were to decide that things should be entirely open or closed regardless of the wish of the local population - as a self-proclaimed Libertarian, shouldn't you be pushing for power to be more concentrated in the hands of smaller, more local groups that are presumably better able to tailor decisions to their immediate circumstances?

Unless you're actually trying to argue that any level of government should never ever regulate anything, in which case you should just probably start making that argument directly and openly (and then explain to us why we need to get rid of health codes, drivers licenses, etc).

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...in which case you should just probably start making that argument directly and openly (and then explain to us why we need to get rid of health codes, drivers licenses, etc).

why such decisions should be made at the federal level rather than municipal.

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Because you're running in circles.

No, this is different governmental bodies coming to different conclusions about things.

That's precisely my grievance! To go back to my example, COVID-19 in a horse racing workplace is either a problem in both Arcadia, CA and Cypress, CA, or it's a problem in neither place, because they're only 35 miles apart. The county border between them is entirely arbitrary.

Either the LA County BoH is adhering to any kind of science or medical guidelines, and the Orange County BoH isn't, or the opposite is true. They're not both right. One of them is wrong.

So, if you're going to be wrong, why are you making a decision for anyone else about their trade and how they live their lives? I can't think of reasons other than "arrogance" and "sociopathy." And if it's not clear through all of this how many people, from Trump, to Baker, to Walsh, to these boards of health, just how sociopathic our elected leaders and their appointees are, well then, I've run thin on how to elaborate that to everyone else.

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To go back to my example, COVID-19 in a horse racing workplace is either a problem in both Arcadia, CA and Cypress, CA, or it's a problem in neither place, because they're only 35 miles apart.

that's like saying cambridge and acton should use the same criteria for reopening because they're only ~30 miles from one another. i mean, chelsea has a per capita covid rate that's much higher than east boston's! why do libertarians act like everything happens in a vacuum?

So, if you're going to be wrong, why are you making a decision for anyone else about their trade and how they live their lives? I can't think of reasons other than "arrogance" and "sociopathy."

well, you got one thing right: you can't think of other reasons.

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Because generally, they're extremely facile thinkers. Rich libertarians are cynics and poor ones are suckers.

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You really got the Libertarians, didn't you?

I still struggle to understand how much 'war power' we need to give the government right now.

Calling into question the gradient shouldn't make us demons.

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just literally unwilling to think about the answers to the questions you’re asking.

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who doesn't think we should have drivers licenses?

I agree we should think carefully about government overreach, but there's a point where you've gone past that and off of the Cliffs of Insanity.

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I only said that drivers' licenses were useless.

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If it's useless, why keep it?

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While driving without one, I'll get a firearm eventually pointed at me.

Just because I don't like every law doesn't mean that I don't endeavor to observe them on practical grounds.

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Sounds pretty useful. You literally use it for something.

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The license is useful by your own account, in that it keeps cops from pointing guns at you. "Practical grounds" is certainly congruent with useful. Your rhetoric is careless and, therefore ... useless.

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he guy (or lady?) acknowledges that someone with government fiat can and will obstruct the activities of consenting adults.

In the matter of contagious diseases, there are people involved who are neither consenting nor adults. People go to a large group event involving sustained contact; thereby increasing the probability that they themselves become an infected host, and then those people go around infecting others.

So, it's not safe for horsepeople (the tracks were/are running without spectators) to convene to conduct races in Arcadia and in Albany, CA, but it's safe in Cypress, CA?

As you well know, "safe vs not safe" is not some kind of binary threshold, it's a matter of probabilities. Even perfect science can't tell you if something is "safe" or "not safe"; the best science can do is estimate the degree of risk. Looking at a given level of risk and deciding whether to permit or ban an activity is a matter of policy, one on which entirely reasonable and well-informed people will differ. So the people of one county, acting through their duly elected government, have decided that the benefits of opening the horse track are not worth the risks; the people of the next county, confronted with perhaps exactly the same risk assessment, made the opposite decision. That's not irrationality, that's the essence of decentralized decision making and is exactly how the system is supposed to work.

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@hilaryagro During my research I interviewed a guy who said he was a libertarian until he did MDMA and realized that other people have feelings, and that was pretty much the best summary of libertarianism I've ever heard

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"Libertarianism is astrology for men"

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admire Ayn Rand? If so, they're too late to recruit me, as I turned 13 a long time ago.

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Dollar in the jar, man. Breaks my heart that someone I admire so much played the basic card.

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Dollar in the jar, man.

...you have a very nanny-state notion about who you're the boss of.

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I don't know his real name or where he lives, so I think the voluntary nature of the joke is quite clear.

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Your closet authoritarian is showing. Libertarians shouldn't tut-tut, should they?

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When Rand Paul and his dumber, more openly racist father Ron Paul are the shining lights of your 'movement', it's time to relaunch with a more cogent philosophy.

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Nothing says "well thought-out political ideas" like booing the idea of drivers licenses.

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And driver's licenses are useless. Pop quiz: How do you proceed at a signaled intersection if the power is out and the signals aren't lit?

If you answer correctly, you're smarter than most actual drivers I've seen in this community.

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Do you believe that there should be no mechanism for public safety officials, the courts, etc., to determine that a given individual is not fit to operate a motor vehicle on the public roads, accompanied by a plausibly implementable mechanism for enforcing such a determination?

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He wrote "driver's licenses are useless." This is such a bald, no-nuance statement that I feel confident that the writer is either an idiot or is trolling.

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Necessary to drive a car:

-A car

-The keys to said car

The five-year old boy in Cali who drove the car last week sure as (expletive) didn't have a license, but he drove the frickin' car, did he not? Clearly, the existence of drivers' licenses did not deter somebody from doing what they wanted to do anyway.

Hell, his "punishment" was to get a ride in a Lamborghini. What's the punishment for an adult driving without a license?

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if not, i guess i’m just not smart enough to understand “people break rules so why have them at all”

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For determining that someone is unfit to drive.

It's between my ring finger and my index finger.

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that mechanism is for communicating your evaluation of someone's driving ability unless... unless... you think your brain is in your middle finger? Or like a secondary brain? Wait, are you holding up your two hands on each side of your head in this scenario and you mean your left ring finger and your right index finger?

BTW, who the hell are you to tell your fingers what to do? Don't you think they should be allowed to determine what they want to do without your central authority weighing in?

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You giving someone the finger determines they are unfit to drive? You've made up my mind. You're an idiot.

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I pity you.

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Just because they're not laughing at your puerile joke doesn't mean they don't have a sense of humor.

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Parkwayne's answer was a lot funnier than your fingering.

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I agree with you on the local stupidity part.. remember the big orange cheeto in the white house, and yeah, sometimes I wonder how some folks get into position.

However, most local boards of health take their cue's from the MassDPH in previous times, but now I would hope... at least in this state, they still would and do so willingly. (but ya never know).

But I agree it should be a local choice. Like my town (chelsea) still has a high number of cases, so large groups still wouldn't be a good thing for some time. But a neighboring town could.

I just worry it would lead to 'migrations' for these events with BoH's that are more lax than others. But I hope MassDPH would set some general guidelines to follow.

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I work in a company that would be a prime contender to re-open May 18 as we have little face to face interaction with the public. But, as a Blue Line rider, I refuse to go back on that date as it is the exact date the T has decided to shut down half the Blue Line for "repairs" and run shuttle buses. This means I would have to take the Blue Line to Airport, and switch to a shuttle bus. This doubles (at least) my interactions with people in enclosed spaces (and in the narrow strip where the Airport shuttle buses are). When the T runs shut buses from Airport it's a horror show even in the best of times. People should demand that the T postpone this Blue Line closure until later in the year. It's the only way. The T should contribute to the careful re-opening of the city, not hinder it.

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The Green Line is also shutting down between North Station and Lechmere starting 5/24. With (presumably many) buses diverted to BL + GL shuttles, it's hard to see how the T would be able to physically operate normal weekday service.

Without normal weekday service, there will be overcrowding even if the 5/18 reopening is very partial.

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...on public transit and childcare.

I expect my workplace is gonna be working from home through the summer, except for rare occasions. Not saying it out loud, my coworkers' heads will explode.

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my company is tentatively planning to remain remote through the summer. we've proven that we can be highly productive in a remote capacity.

that said, if they reverse that and ask us to start coming in, they will need to pay our parking in downtown boston since nobody will want to use public transit.

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My workplace, not being stupid, will not ask that of us. They're also covering all sick time (covid or not) and all covid-related time off including childcare.

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Are they covering sick/covid related time off by allowing you to use paid time off for those hours or are they creating some type of supplemental coverage?

I would think its the former but maybe some businesses with deeper pockets than others and having incredible devotion to their work/life balance are doing more?

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Put simply, if the price they ask people to pay to keep their jobs is to either leave their children at home without care, or spend all their PTO on an extended outage, people will decline to work for them - and they know it.

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If we all start driving in to Boston, where are we all going to park?? Even if say, half the people who take public transportation from the burbs drive in, there isn't enough parking.

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talk at all about how more recent cases (during the lock down) seem to be transmitted? It would be interesting to know if it gives any ideas about what are risk and less risky activities. Have people gotten transmission at a super market, etc?

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...here.

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Everyone should read the article 1bb mentioned above!

With distancing, outdoor transmission is very unlikely and grocery stores are very safe for the patrons (and riskier for the workers.)

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So... that applies to those in nursing homes and veterans in veterans' homes how? People who are working in grocery stores work INDOORS. I'm sure they'd rather be and would feel safer outside, obviously! What is your point?

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You just went from zero to nuclear for no real good reason. Read the article. It explains the data and evidence and science regarding transmission in various environments, it doesn't have an agenda.

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This article mentions the Boston Biogen outbreak. Shortly after that meeting, a much larger event was held -- Pax East. The latter ended on Sunday, March 1, less than two weeks before my office closed indefinitely. Yet I haven't heard much mention of it in discussions of Boston cases. Has there been an attempt to trace cases back to Pax East attendees or their close contacts?

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It is an excellent article. (And from a UMass Dartmouth professor too!)

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What you need to know up front:

  • I am not claiming to be an expert in coronaviruses, medicine, or preparedness.
  • I have PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from James Cook University, Australia.
  • I am a Assoc. Prof. of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where I teach and research infectious diseases and host immune responses of animals.

(Emphasis added)

Source: https://www.erinbromage.com/

I checked, in case this was a case of boomeranging, but it appears that Professor Bromage did all of his degrees down under:

Education
1996 James Cook University B.Sc. in Biology
1997 James Cook University M.S. in Biology
2004 James Cook University Ph.D in Biology

Source: https://www.umassd.edu/directory/ebromage/

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I'm a graduate of UMass Dartmouth, so when I read the article, I thought the professor graduated from UMass Dartmouth too.

I've corrected my original post.

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Even if she is using counts of virus expelled from previous epidemics (since we don't have good numbers for Covid-19), it's great to have some sense of how infectious certain activities are.

Thanks, IBB

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The UMass Dartmouth professor is a he.

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“ You would have to be in their airstream for 5+ minutes for a chance of infection.” so why are runners required to wear masks? Or are we going to cherry pick data points from this article?

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It's time for people to shut up about runners without masks. The safest place you can be is outside,

Social distancing rules are really to protect you with brief exposures or outdoor exposures. In these situations there is not enough time to achieve the infectious viral load when you are standing 6 feet apart or where wind and the infinite outdoor space for viral dilution reduces viral load. The effects of sunlight, heat, and humidity on viral survival, all serve to minimize the risk to everyone when outside.

and runners go by you too fast to contaminate you.

While joggers may be releasing more virus due to deep breathing, remember the exposure time is also less due to their speed.

Unless you are drafting another runner, runners are the least of your worries.

So go outside, people! It's good for your health!

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Thanks for the kind words, but the first letter of my nick is actually a lower-case letter L, not a number 1 ;-)

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Several of my coworkers didn't wash their hands prior to the pandemic. I do not trust that they've suddenly changed their world view and become hand-washers. Likewise, so many people feel the need to come to work sick, even those who have paid sick days. All of this is going to rely on people thinking about what's best for everyone, and I don't really trust anyone to do that.

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Yes. I've known a lot of people whose definition of being a good employee included going in to work even when they were sick. I'm not talking here about restaurant employees who can't afford to stay home sick; that's an even worse public-health hazard. I'm talking here about office workers with sick days, who want to think their daily contributions are so indispensable that they should risk the health of their co-workers. Now that I'm retired, I'm safe from them, but when I was working, it always pissed me off when somebody did that. If one of those people is reading this, please reconsider. Even if you're right about your being critical to the company's success (and my very long and varied work experience says you are not), that success should not come at the expense of the other employees' health. Stay home when you're sick.

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Quite a few managers put pressure on their workers to show up even when sick. My mother is a retired physician and her department head would push her to come in when sick -- and she had direct contact with patients!

Couple that with HR policies which require employees to present a doctor's note when using sick time and people just decide it's not worth the hassle of making an appointment, burning half a day for a 15-minute appointment, and paying a co-pay for a note.

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I thought that in the Governors executive order selfish people who refuse to wear masks would not be allowed to ride on the MBTA and they would be issues citations. I asked a bus driver about the order and she said they were told passengers didn't have to wear masks and the Transit Police would not enforce the executive order. Who is in charge and why are some rules enforced and others ignored?

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I work at one of Boston's many family destinations / cultural institutions. I can't even begin to imagine when places like that will be cleared to open. Packing a building with families with kids? Just seems impossible....

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aw man. I know kids aren't a big group known for death but they are little virus carriers, even they aren't infected themselves, due to bad handwashing and not being conscious about not touching their faces.

Every single time I go to the Children's Museum I get some weird short cold. After the 3rd time my niece wanted to go, I now plan to be sick (and off from work).

I can't imagine that place after C19.

And in inside musuems, I can't see social distancing working very well. At least places with lots of kids. I can see it with adults.. limited entry (or appointments!), a very directed flow around the stuff. But little kids. No.

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Did you catch that terrible ice cream truck yet? Have you been able to get a prescription filled for your cowering and shaking? At least now we know you have always been allergic to children, so at least that explains half of your miserable outlook. Stay home forever, buddy, and you’ll be ok, and the rest of us will be better off in our joy too.

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Commenting that children have poor hygiene consciousness is a statement of fact, it doesn't make someone a grinch. You're the one being a jerk here.

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The kids have their hands in their mouths all day, wipe their snot on everything, but things in their mouths... it's pretty bad. New preschool teachers are often allocated extra sick days for their first year.

If one family gets COVID-19 after reopening of preschools, I feel like maybe the entire school and all the attached families would have to quarantine for there to be any hope of quashing the cluster.

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I can see it with adults.. limited entry (or appointments!), a very directed flow around the stuff.

Yes!

Not all museums may have enough floor space for it, but in general it can be done.

The United States Constitution Museum in Philadelphia is pretty good. Plenty of space, separate exhibits, timed theater/video segments, a progression that can be followed, a path through (or in and out) without doubling back on other groups... The first time I went there, I wondered if it had been built in consultation with somebody with amusement park experience.

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I understand the phases and everything but I wonder about people working in the dentistry field. Impossible for people to social distance while getting cleanings & then ortho.

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Not some vague promise already broken multiple times to re-open. This has gone on long enough. Require face masks. And the nursing home scandal is monstrous. I know for a fact this and other states were allowing infected people into rooms with un-infected. Many homes have sealed windows and central air; perfect for a virus to thrive. To add insult to injury, politicians are heavily lobbied by the private for profit nursing home industry to shield them from lawsuits!

Expect taxes to increase to pay for these lawsuits.

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If you interpreted it as one, the error was in your listening.

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