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As Mass. braces for phased reopening amid coronavirus, here’s what other states are doing

The streets of downtown Boston on Thursday.
The streets of downtown Boston on Thursday.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Many questions remain about Gov. Charlie Baker’s phased reopening of the Massachusetts economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the state’s reopening advisory board slated to release its report on the highly anticipated plan Monday.

That’s also the same day Baker’s emergency order closing non-essential businesses is scheduled to expire, though state officials have repeatedly said the economy will open gradually in four phases, based on public health metrics surrounding new infections and hospitalizations.

As business leaders and workers wait for the plan to take shape, here’s a quick look at what other states are doing in the early stages of reopening.

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It’s worth noting that Massachusetts remains one of the hardest-hit states by the virus, which had killed 5,482 residents and infected 82,182 people as of Thursday.

Rhode Island - Phase One of the state’s reopening began May 9. Parameters included opening non-critical retail stores with capacity limits, capping religious ceremonies at five or fewer people, and limiting funerals and end-of-life rituals to 10 or fewer attendees, according to the state’s official Reopening RI website.

Restaurants remain open during Phase One for pickup, delivery and drive-thru only, and, gatherings are limited to five people or fewer, and offices are permitted to allow limited staff visits for equipment retrieval by employees who’ve been working remotely, the site says.

Governor Gina M. Raimondo said Monday she’ll allow restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining only on May 18. The restaurants will be required to take reservations ahead of time, limit tables to up to five customers, and use disposable, digital, or chalkboard menus in order to avoid having customers touch commonly-used items in the establishments.

Business that have remained closed during Phase One include close-contact businesses such as barbershops and salons, gyms, fitness studios, and recreation and entertainment groups, according to the site.

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Raimondo plans to speak Friday about how the state will move into Phase Two of reopening the economy.

“I feel confident about where we are and where we’re going,” Raimondo said during a news conference Thursday. "That in no way minimizes the challenges Rhode Island is facing … but we are on the road to recovery.”

Rhode Island had 12,016 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday and 468 deaths, data shows.

New York - Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that several regions of upstate New York that have made strides in fighting the pandemic are ready to gradually restart economic activity by this weekend.

He said three upstate regions have met all criteria for opening some business activity after Friday: the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, and the Finger Lakes.

Like Baker in Massachusetts, Cuomo said economic re-opening in New York will happen in four phases. The first businesses that can open will include construction, manufacturing and retail with curbside pickup. Additionally, landscaping and gardening businesses and drive-in theaters can open statewide, Cuomo said.

Cuomo also said the state also is relaxing restrictions on low-risk outdoor activities such as tennis.

New York State had 343,051 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday and 22,170 deaths, according to official figures.

In Washington State, Phase One of the four-phase reopening began May 5, according to the state’s Safe Start Washington report posted on the official state website. Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks, the report said.

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During Phase One, permissible activities include hunting, fishing, golf, boating, and hiking, as well as drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle, the report said. Businesses permitted to operate, beyond essential services, include landscaping, car and boat sales, retail limited to curbside pickup, car washes and pet walkers, as well as existing “construction that meets agreed upon criteria,” the report said.

“The state will stay in every phase for a minimum of three weeks,” the document said. “During that time, the Department of Health and the Governor will re-evaluate the above indicators and determine if the state should remain in the current phase, advance to the next phase or return to the previous phase. No phase will last less than three weeks before moving to the next phase, in order to allow one complete disease incubation period plus an additional week to compile complete data and confirm trends.”

In addition, the report noted that “phased approach may be adjusted as the pandemic evolves. The industries listed are not an exclusive or exhaustive list of industries. Businesses listed in each phase of the plan will have industry-specific guidance and safety criteria developed to ensure workplace safety and public health are maintained. Those business activities are not authorized to open until the industry-specific guidance and safety criteria are issued.”

In New Hampshire, several types of businesses were given the green light to reopen May 11, as long as they adhere to certain safety guidelines. For example, barbers and hair salons can provide haircuts and root touch-up color services, but the blow-drying of hair is not allowed. On May 18 restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining, with no more than six people seated at a table.

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In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order on May 13 to allow car gatherings and drive-in movie theaters to reopen. The order also calls for non-essential construction projects to resume on May 18, along with curbside pickup at retail businesses. Stores and the indoor portions of shopping malls, however, will remain closed to customers for the time being.

“I’ve been clear that data will determine dates, and what we are seeing gives us confidence that we can begin the careful restart of our economy,” Murphy said. “Over the past eight weeks, New Jerseyans have taken our stay-at-home order seriously and have created the conditions that make this next phase possible. The steps we are taking allow for important standards of social distancing to continue with the return of safe, responsible business operations.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Christina Prignano, Amanda Milkovits, and Dan McGowan of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.