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.