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, Mass. — Berkshire County cultural venues were awarded more than $9 million in U.S. Small Business Administration funding to alleviate the impacts of having to close during the pandemic.
Grants ranged from $2.7 million for Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and $1.5 million for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket to $124,765 for Images Cinema in Williamstown and $15,187 for Athlone Artists in Lenox.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal on Monday announced $20,010,864 in grant funds for the 1st Massachusetts congressional district from the Shuttered Venues Operation Grant program. The congressman was at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield with the museum's President and CEO John Doleva; the Hall of Fame received $3,740,728 in funding.
"These funds are incredibly instrumental to operations like the Basketball Hall of Fame who suffered greatly because of the pandemic," said Neal. "For the safety of the American people, the government forced these agencies to close their doors. And now, it is the government again stepping in to make sure that they are able to get back on their feet."
The plan for two zoning overlay districts in the downtown under the state's 40R zoning was submitted in March after a public hearing late last year. The letter from the Department of Housing and Community Development was received June 28.
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Bond kicked off her campaign for mayor on Thursday at the Greylock Community Club with a short speech highlighting the infrastructure challenges North Adams faces but also putting a strong emphasis on the business investment flowing into the state's smallest city.
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