Baker-Polito Administration announces four-phase Reopening Massachusetts intiative

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BostonThe Baker-Polito Administration released Reopening Massachusetts, the Reopening Advisory Board’s report, which details a four-phased strategy to responsibly reopen businesses and activities while continuing to fight COVID-19.

Here is the full press release detailing the initiative:

The Administration also released a new “Safer At Home” Advisory, which instructs residents to stay at home unless engaging with newly opened activities, as a way to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19. Starting today, based on current public health data and trends, Massachusetts will begin Phase 1 of a cautious reopening, and workplaces that are permitted to open are required to follow new safety protocols and guidance.

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Learn more about the reopening process: www.mass.gov/reopening

VIEW THE FULL REPORT

VIEW GUIDANCE FOR SPECIFIC INDUSTRIES

Detailed in Reopening Massachusetts, each phase of the reopening will be guided by public health data and key indicators that will be continually monitored for progress and will be used to determine advancement to future phases. Industries, sectors, and activities that present less risk will open in earlier phases. Those that present more risk will open in later phases.

The 17-member Reopening Advisory Board, co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, consists of public health experts, municipal leaders and members of the business community representing many facets of the Massachusetts economy. Since its formation on April 28, the Board met with a total of 75 stakeholder groups ranging from industry associations, regional chambers of commerce, community coalitions, and labor organizations, representing over 112,000 different businesses and more than two million workers across the Commonwealth. The Reopening Advisory Board also considered written comments from over 4,500 employers, organizations, and individuals in the development of its plan.

Safer at Home Advisory:

Effective today, the Department of Public Health also updated the Stay at Home Advisory, replacing it with a new, “Safer at Home” Advisory. The new Safer at Home Advisory instructs everyone to stay home unless they are headed to a newly opened facility or activity. It also advises those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions to stay home with the exception of trips required for health care, groceries, or that are otherwise absolutely necessary. All residents must continue to wear a face covering in public when social distancing is not possible, and individuals are advised to wash their hands frequently and be vigilant in monitoring for symptoms. Restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people remain in effect.

Public Health Metrics:

Key public health metrics will determine if and when it is appropriate to proceed through reopening phases. They include:

  • COVID-19 positive test rate;
  • Number of individuals who died from COVID-19;
  • Number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals;
  • Health care system readiness;
  • Testing capacity;
  • Contact tracing capabilities.

Phase 1 Reopening:

Based on the public health metrics, manufacturing facilities and construction sites will open effective today with applicable guidelines.

Places of worship will be able to open with guidelines that require social distancing and encourage services to be held outdoors.

Hospitals and community health centers that attest to specific public health and safety standards can begin to provide high priority preventative care, pediatric care and treatment for high risk patients.

Under a staggered approach, additional Phase 1 sectors of the economy will be permitted to open effective May 25 including:

  • Lab space;
  • Office space;
  • Limited personal services, including: hair salons, pet grooming, car washes;
  • Retail: remote fulfillment and curbside pick-up;

Also permitted to open on May 25 with applicable guidelines, are the following:

  • Beaches;
  • Parks;
  • Drive-in movie theaters;
  • Select athletic fields and courts;
  • Many outdoor adventure activities;
  • Most fishing, hunting, and boating;
  • Outdoor gardens, zoos, reserves, and public installations.

Additional sectors expected to open on June 1 as part of Phase 1 include office spaces in the city of Boston with applicable guidelines.

Reopening Massachusetts In Phases:

The goal of this phased reopening plan is to methodically allow businesses, services, and activities to resume, while avoiding a resurgence of COVID-19 that could overwhelm the state’s health care system and erase the progress made so far.

  • Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks and could last longer before moving to the next phase;
  • If public health data trends are negative, specific industries, regions, and/or the entire Commonwealth may need to return to an earlier phase;
  • The Commonwealth will partner with industries to draft sector-specific protocols in advance of future phases (example: restaurant-specific protocols will be drafted in advance of Phase 2);
  • If we all work together to defeat COVID-19, we can proceed through each phase.

Success in earlier phases will refine criteria for future phases including travel, sizes of gatherings, as well as additional retail openings, lodging and accommodations, arts, entertainment, fitness centers, museums, restaurants, youth sports, and other activities.

Industry-Specific Guidance:

Businesses are not required to reopen, and may not do so if they are unable to follow safety protocols. The Baker-Polito Administration has developed specific guidance so that each industry reopens as safely as possible. Businesses are expected to implement these protocols in addition to the more general Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.

As of May 18, materials for the sectors eligible to open in the first phase of reopening are included on the mass.gov/reopening website. Guidance for sectors opening in later phases will be posted online in advance of those phases.

In order to reopen, businesses must develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Required materials are located on mass.gov/reopening, and include detailed sector-specific circulars and checklists to facilitate compliance.

Self-Certification for Businesses:

Required materials for businesses to self-certify are located on mass.gov/reopening, and include:

  • COVID-19 Control Plan template, which must be retained on premises and provided in the event of an inspection;
  • Compliance Attestation poster to be posted in a location visible to employees and visitors indicating a completed COVID-19 Control Plan