UPDATED: Baker-Polito Administration Announces 4-Phase Re-Opening Plan For Massachusetts

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Originally posted at 1:22 p.m. Last updated at 2:12 p.m.

BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced today, May 11, announced a 4-phased re-opening plan for the state.

Few details were provided at today’s press conference. A full report on the phased re-opening is not due until May 18.

Non-essential business have been told to open remotely or close through May 18, under an order by the Governor.

The goal is to re-open the Commonwealth, as safely as possible, said Gov. Baker as today’s press conference.

Massachusetts remains one of the hardest hit states in the country by the coronavirus, said Gov. Baker.

More than 5,000 individuals have died from COVID-19 or complications from the virus, and almost 80,000 individuals have tested positive.

The highly contagious nature of COVID-19, factors into the decision to re-open, said the Governor.

“We have to make sure we don’t take one step forward, and two steps back,” said Gov. Baker.

The Governor said this virus is unpredictable.

The goal of the re-opening plan is to allow methodically certain businesses to re-open.

The Governor announced today, May 11, what the four phases would be:

  • Phase 1 will be “Start:” limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions
  • Phase 2 will be “Cautious:” additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits
  • Phase 3 will be “Vigilant:” additional industries resume operations with guidance
  • Phase 4 will be the “New Normal:” development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal

The Governor said he will have which industries & businesses are in each phase in a couple of days.

A full report by the re-opening advisory board is due on May 18, said the Governor.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said there will be policies on limiting social gathering numbers, wearing face coverings, and when entering the state self-quarantining for 14 days.

Lt. Polito said there will be social distancing and face-covering policies for businesses, as well as cleaning & disinfecting businesses, and policies for employees. These will be released later.

“There will be a set of criteria for all employers,” said the Governor.

This also implies to the colleges & universities in the Commonwealth, explained the Governor.

“As we move towards a new normal, we all have a lot of work to do,” said the Lt,. Governor.

Businesses and activities that provided “COVID-19 Essential Services,” per Governor Baker’s March 23rd order, will continue to operate.

Certain businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will open in earlier phases. 

Decisions and timing will be influenced by public health metrics for when the first phase of reopening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into concurrent phases, said the Baker-Polito administration.

CLICK HERE for more information about the four-phased reopening approach.

CLICK HERE for today’s presentation from the Reopening Advisory Board.

Additionally, the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the COVID-19 Command Center, in consultation with the Reopening Advisory Board and based on feedback from industry, labor, and community coalitions, has developed Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as employees and customers begin to return to workplaces during the first phase of reopening.

These Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards are applicable to all sectors and industries that will be open in phase one, and create new workplace requirements for social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning. These standards are being released to give workplaces time to plan and prepare for reopening.

For social distancing:

  • All persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside workplaces
  • Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing
  • Provide signage for safe social distancing
  • Require face coverings or masks for all employees

For hygiene:

  • Provide hand washing capabilities throughout the workplace
  • Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies to do so
  • Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site

For staffing and operations:

  • Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols
  • Employees who are displaying COVID19-like symptoms do not report to work
  • Establish a plan for employees getting ill from COVID-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan

For cleaning and disinfecting:

  • Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business
  • When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting must be performed
  • Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to said workplace

CLICK HERE for more information about the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.

In addition to these Mandatory Standards which apply to all workplaces, the Reopening Advisory Board is developing Sector Specific Safety Protocols and Best Practices that will detail how particular industries should operate upon reopening.

The Governor said he will be working with other New England states on the re-opening plan.

But it is important to still socially distance, stay at least 6 feet apart of other individuals, and to wear a mask when you can not, added the Governor.

“We have in fact flatten the curve,” said the Governor.

“But, this is no time to quit,” said the Governor.

The key roles that everyone has played has got us where we are now. We have all forgone weddings, funerals, and graduations to help curb this virus, said the Governor.

“There has been nothing comfortable about this since the middle of March,” said the Governor.

Gov. Baker said the phased opening will be nothing but uncomfortable too.

“I have a hard time understanding when we will be able to play basketball again,” said Governor, explaining how physical the sport is.

Gov. Baker said day-in-and-day-out the vast majority of residents will adhere to the guidelines of social distancing and the face covering.

The Governor said he hopes people do the right thing for their colleague, their friend, and their neighbor.

“Testing has a major role to play in what happens going forward,” said the Governor. The Governor said the contract tracing program will also be important.

The Governor said the Commonwealth delivered its 10 millionth personal protection equipment (PPE) this weekend.


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