Governor Charlie Baker on Monday gave a first look at how Massachusetts will begin to reopen its economy, which has been devastated as the state has come to a near standstill to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Although the four-phased approach Baker announced was fairly vague, he still gave an outline of what each phase would look like.
“Businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will open in earlier phases,” state officials posted online. “Public health metrics will determine when the first phase of reopening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into later phases. If public health metrics worsen, the state may need to return to an earlier phase.”
Baker said that “the goal is to begin this process around May 18, but it will be gradual and the facts on the ground will determine if we actually hit that goal.”
Baker did not name specific industries or workplaces in each phase, such as restaurants or hair salons, but said the state does expect to eventually provide that information. (The Reopening Advisory Board is scheduled to provide its full report to Baker on Monday, May 18.)
“We’ll have additional information in the coming days about which industries and activities will open in each phase, based on the trajectory of the public health data. It’s incredibly difficult to plan for the future when we don’t have real certainties about how this particular virus moves and relates and acts across time,” Baker said.
Here’s a look at each reopening phase, as provided by state officials.
Phase 1: Start
This phase will have limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions.
In this phase, Baker said, industries “more naturally set up” to have little face-to-face interactions will be permitted to open with restrictions and strict safety protocols.
“We’ll continue to follow the data and the public health metrics to determine when Phase 1... begins, and then when it’s safe to move on to concurrent phases after that,” Baker said.
Phase 2: Cautious
In this phase, additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits.
“More industries with more face-to-face interactions [will] resume operations — again, with conditions,” Baker said of Phase 2.
Phase 3: Vigilant
During the third phase, additional industries will resume operations with guidance.
“We can allow for the loosening of some of the restrictions from some of the earlier phases” if public health data indicates it is safe to do so, Baker said of Phase 3.
Phase 4: The New Normal
With the development of a vaccine and/or therapy enables the resumption of a “new normal.”
“We all know life will be different, but as the medical and life sciences communities make progress in treatments and vaccines, we can really begin to put this virus into the rearview mirror. But none of that is going to happen overnight,” Baker said.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss