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Businesses pressure Baker for reopening guidelines

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce proposes a series of target dates for resuming work, starting with May 8.

A couple walked past closed businesses on Newbury Street.
A couple walked past closed businesses on Newbury Street.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

An influential business group is pushing Governor Charlie Baker to quickly set guidelines for reopening the economy, a sign of growing impatience with the administration’s cautious approach to easing coronavirus restrictions.

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday that Baker should release reopening criteria by Friday, so businesses can prepare for the possible lifting of limits on nonessential services that are set to expire May 18.

Baker last week named a panel of business executives, public health officials, and municipal leaders to guide his administration with strategies for reopening the economy. He asked the committee to submit its recommendation by May 18 — a date that would leave businesses waiting until at least then for ground rules on opening.

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The group said in a statement that other northeastern states that have agreed to coordinate their reopenings with Massachusetts have announced conditions under which they will allow certain businesses to resume operations.

The Chamber pressed Baker to provide details by May 18 on how it will move toward universal coronavirus testing. It urged the state to reopen child care centers by June 1, and to explain how the MBTA will implement social distancing policies and the impact that will have on capacity.

The group also said businesses are concerned about legal liabilities they could face after reopening, and recommended that the state set guidelines that, if followed, would offer protections against being sued.

“While some liability exposure should be dealt with federally, clear guidance can mitigate concerns. Like many other aspects of the reopening, businesses urge government to rely on guidance rather than regulation,” the Chamber said.

“Major employers are looking to build consensus among themselves on things like when and how employees return to physical workspaces, adjusting to new building layouts and procedures, procuring PPE, and training employees for the new workspace,” the Chamber said.

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Larry Edelman can be reached at larry.edelman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeNewsEd.