MASSACHUSETTS BEGINS PHASED APPROACH TO REOPENING

Governor Charlie Baker at a State House signing ceremony. Photo: mass.gov

Sources: amherstma.gov and mass.gov

The Baker-Polito Administration initiated  a comprehensive plan for a phased reopening of the Massachusetts economy on Monday May 18.  The plan uses a framework that considers both the public health risk and the economic benefit of reopening each of the closed sectors of the economy. 

All businesses must develop written COVID-19 Control Plans outlining how their workplaces will comply with the mandatory safety standards for operation in the COVID-19 reopening period. Control Plans do not need to be submitted for approval but must be kept on-premise and made available in the case of an inspection or outbreak.

You can download the COVID-19 Control Plan here.

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.  There is no representation of labor on the board. 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.

The Town of Amherst will act in accordance with the State’s phased reopening plan. The Town will do everything it can to help Amherst reopen safely while working to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19. The goal, first and foremost, is to maintain the well-being of all community members.

Safer at Home Advisory
Effective  Monday, May 18, 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.   

Key Information 

  • All phased approach and reopening summary plans can be found at www.mass.gov/covid19
  • Detailed industry reopening plan can be found here
  • All sector-specific protocols and best practices can be found here
  • Safer-at-Home Advisory details can be found here
  • Local Business Resources from the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce at www.amherstarea.com

Sector-Specific Guidance, Information, Protocols and Best Practices

Places of WorshipPermitted to reopen on May 18, 2020

Outdoor RecreationPermitted to reopen on May 18, 2020

Construction Permitted to reopen on May 18, 2020

ManufacturingPermitted to reopen on May 18, 2020

Office Spaces Permitted to reopen on May 25, 2020

Laboratories Permitted to reopen on May 25, 2020

Hair Salons and BarbershopsPermitted to reopen on May 25, 2020

Car WashesPermitted to reopen on May 25, 2020

Pet GroomingPermitted to reopen on May 25, 2020

Health and Human Services Reopening Plans and Guidance

During the COVID-19 public health emergency to date, in order to ensure Massachusetts’ health care system had the capacity to address the pandemic, some health care services and procedures needed to be limited or put on hold temporarily, while many services were conducted remotely using telehealth. Emergency services and other essential health and human services continued during this time.

As of May 18th, the Commonwealth is issuing new guidelines to hospitals and health care providers in accordance with the state’s four-phase reopening plan, to allow some non-emergency procedures or deferred care that may now need attention. Hospitals and Community Health Centers may begin this reopening starting on May 18th, and all other providers may begin starting on May 25th.

Reopening Massachusetts Website

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