Gov. Charlie Baker announces that Phase 2 reopenings will begin Monday based on positive trends in containment of the pandemic.
BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker gave the all-clear on Saturday to begin Phase 2 of reopening the Massachusetts economy on Monday as COVID-19 numbers continue to decline.
He might take his wife out to dinner, he said, but he was finally able to visit his father, who is in a long-term care facility. "He needs a haircut but other than that he's fine," Baker said.
But he cautioned that the state is not out of the woods yet and that residents and businesses should keep up with containment protocols.
"We're asking people to follow new safety protocols to rethink the way they interact with customers to stagger work schedules and to work remotely," he said. "And so far, we're enormously grateful for everyone's support and creativity and adjusting their operations. This is on top of our requests for people to keep their distance where face coverings. And do without several forms of gatherings and socializing. ...
"Since the middle of March, we've asked a lot of everybody here in the commonwealth every family, every business, every employer, every government agency, every individual to get to this point."
The seven-day average for positive tests is down 82 percent since the beginning of May, the three-day average of hospitalized patients is down 55 percent and the number of hospitals operating in surge is down 76 percent.
The state partnered with health-care providers to set up five locations deal with a surge in novel coronavirus cases and Newton Pavilion. On Friday, the COVID Command Center upgraded the metric of positive patients to green, or trending down.
"After caring for 723 patients since its opening on April 10, Boston Hope discharged its last patients earlier in the week. The thousand-bed facility will remain in place for the time being in the event of a second wave," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. "And yesterday, the Newton pavilion, a partnership between the commonwealth, the city, Boston Medical Center and Healthcare for the Homeless, ceased its operations in the last person transitioned to another setting."
The state's reopening advisory board has laid out a four-phase reopening strategy after the novel coronavirus caused a shutdown of all but essential operations in mid-March. The safety regulations closed schools, athletic and performance events, visitations to hospitals and long-term care facilities, and stores that didn't offer necessities such as food and cleaning supplies.
Phase 1 allowed the reopening of limited access to certain personal services, curbside pickup for some retail operations, and manufacturing and construction with continued social distancing.
"As online learning winds down for K through 12, I'm both relieved and happy that our efforts to fight COVID-19 have resulted in this particular milestone today," said the governor. "Parents have been putting up with a lot for the past several months and I hope Phase 2 will offer some different kinds of outlets for kids."
Like Phase 1, this next phase will have three steps over three weeks, and will have three levels of safety guidance for residents, businesses and workers. Some activities are at the discretion of communities.
Step 2 of Phase 2, said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Michael Kennealy, "based on continued improvements in public health metrics, will allow restaurants to serve guests indoors, close contact personal services like nail salons, massage therapy, and tanning salons will also open in step two."
Kennealy said the employers and workers have been asked to make sacrifices during this period and that the reopening process was not expected to be easy.
"But thanks to the cooperation of the public businesses and workers in fighting COVID-19, we've seen strong improvements in key public health metrics," he said. "This gives us the confidence to take the next step in our four-phase reopening plan as we move towards a new normal."
The following businesses will be eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase II on June 8, with contingencies:
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North Adams Committee Tweaking Solicitor Ordinance
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee is considering side-stepping a thorny problem about access to the city solicitor by rewriting an ordinance to more clearly spell out lines of communication.
Chairwoman Lisa Blackmer said the wording in the ordinance had raised questions as to whether any single councilor has "unfettered access to the city solicitor."
"I think, we thought that was not particularly good," she said. "So I'd like to take a shot at rewriting that ordinance."
The council had objected back in 2018 when the city switched over to KP Law as city solicitor, limiting council members' access to the Boston law firm. The council members had been used to contacting former City Solicitor John B. DeRosa, who'd been kept on retainer for 35 years before stepping down in March 2018.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. click for more