BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said that while he hopes some businesses will be able to resume operations soon after May 18, he added it will be a gradual process and not “off to the races.”
“There won’t be anyone firing a starting gun on May 18 and saying everybody’s off to the races, but we do hope certain types of businesses and workplaces will be able to begin resuming operations, under the guidelines established through this process, and based on the fact that we will have hit certain triggers, with respect to the status of the virus here in Massachusetts,” said Baker.
Last week, Baker extended his order for non-essential businesses to remain closed. Initially it was set to expire on May 4, but Baker pushed it back until May 18.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and members of the recently formed 17-member Economic Reopening Advisory Board met at length over the weekend. She stressed on Monday that safety will be top priority, and it will be a gradual process.
“There seems to be some with an understanding that May 18 is a magical date. May 18 is the date that we said the report of this advisory board will be released,” she said, adding “It doesn’t mean that the economy across our Commonwealth will just reopen. It’s just not possible.”
Baker said the only sectors of the economy that will be allowed to open in the first days are those who can implement appropriate health guidance.
“In the coming weeks we’re prepared to have more concrete plans on what each phase of reopening will look like, where certain activities and industries fit into which phase, general business guidance about social distancing, personal protection, and cleaning protocols that all businesses will need to adhere to upon reopening, and industry specific guidance and protocols for reopening safely,” said Baker.
The governor said the advisory board has met with stakeholders from 23 different associations and coalitions. In total, the groups represent more than 100,000 businesses and 1.4 million workers in the state.
Among the groups represented were retail, the high tech sector, life sciences, restaurants, travel, tourism and lodging, banking, construction, and recreation. In addition, Baker said the board met with the Black Economic Council, the Latino Chamber of Commerce, and the NAACP.
In the upcoming days, representatives from labor, gaming, museums and cultural institutions, and sports organizations will be included in discussions.
Working with other states in New England will be key in the process, Baker said.
“Whether you’re talking beaches, or parks, or playgrounds, those are things we’re all talking about together because we know that, for each of us, the decisions we make with regard to how to operate those and how people access them is going to matter over state lines. It’s not a decision any of us can make and expect not to have an impact on others too,” said Baker.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said that while the city is planning for the reopening phase, “we’re not at the point where we can begin to reopen.”
“We have to make sure that we’re taking all the right actions, every single step of the way. If we don’t, we risk dealing with a second and even worse wave of this virus. For everyone’s health and safety, and for the future of our city, we must get this right,” Walsh said.