Massachusetts may start to reopen nonessential parts of its economy Monday. What’s the plan? Here’s a quick rundown of what we know and don’t know about how the state, which has been locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, will get back to work:
What we know
- The state says a report will be issued Monday from the Reopening Advisory Board that will lay out the state’s reopening plan in detail. Governor Charlie Baker said he wants the “starting gun ... to go off on Monday.”
- The report is being released the same day the governor’s order closing nonessential businesses and stay-at-home advisory to residents is expected to expire, though the board’s website notes that “public health data and guidance from health care experts will dictate the timeline of the re-opening process.”
- The overall structure of the phased reopening generally calls for four phases: Start, Caution, Vigilant and New Normal.
- Businesses that will open in the Start phase are expected to be those where there is little face-to-face interaction between people. The state has already issued mandatory safety standards that will generally apply to all businesses in the Start phase. The rules address, among other things, social distancing, employee hygiene, masks, and cleaning.
What we don’t know
- The state has not issued a specific list of businesses that would be allowed to operate in each phase.
- The state has not issued guidelines and protocols for reopening that are specific to different types of businesses.
- The state has said that the public health metrics such as new infections and hospitalizations will govern when the state moves from phase to phase. But it hasn’t given precise thresholds for the metrics, except to say sustained periods of downward trends in the number of positive virus tests are required to move forward. Officials also haven’t said how long each phase will last or how large of a spike in new infections and hospitalizations would trigger a pause or a scaling back of the reopening.
- While Monday’s report is expected to shed more light on the three issues above, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is raising other questions, including what will be done about child care (which has been shut down for nonessential workers until the end of June), public transportation, and coronavirus testing going forward, if people begin streaming back to work.
Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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