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 School Committee Votes for Remote Learning
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee on Tuesday rejected a hybrid school reopening model to vote 3-2 to go full remote.
The decision to start school with the remote option was apparently influenced by a letter the School Committee members received from the North Adams Teachers Association expressing concern over re-entering the schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Committee member Tara Jacobs said she was not comfortable potentially exposing staff to the novel coronavirus in motioning to go with the remote option to start and later transition to a hybrid model.
"There's no good scenario but the decision to open the school and have someone dying or having health conditions for the rest of their life ... ," she said, motioning to start the school year remotely.
Peter Oleskiewicz was nominated by Councilor Wayne Wilkinson and elected by unanimous decision. The owner of Desparedo's Mexican Restaurant was 103 votes short for a seat on the nine-member council last November.
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At a meeting in late July, Zachery Feury, project coordinator in the Office of Community Development, gave the commission a presentation on more refined plans for the city's application to the Shared Streets and Spaces grant program.
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The class of 2020's saying is "Time 2 Make History," something this class has certainly done already: the first Drury class go fully online for learning, to have a drive-by graduation, and to have two graduations.
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Instead of talking about the challenges the global pandemic has created for the class, the country, and the world, Harrington talked about some of the class's successes and thanked all those who helped along the way.
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