FALL RIVER (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said that while he understands businesses are eager to reopen, he said doing so too quickly would be “incredibly irresponsible.” Baker said it will require patience as the state works toward a new normal after the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, Baker announced that the state’s reopening will be done as part of a 4-phase process. But the governor said he will not say which industries will be considered in Phase 1 until May 18. He has also declined to say if the state’s stay-at-home advisory will be extended.
“I want this to be done in a deliberate way, and you don’t do something in a deliberate way if you start leaking it out and issuing it out before you actually release the report. I don’t want the starting gun to go off today or tomorrow; I want it to go off Monday,” Baker said during his Wednesday press briefing.
“This isn’t going to be a situation or a circumstance where on May 18 every business in Massachusetts that’s currently closed is going to be permitted to open. It’s not going to work like that, and it shouldn’t work like that,” Baker added.
The governor said it is important to remember that there are still 3,000 people hospitalized in Massachusetts with coronavirus and almost 1,000 in ICU beds.
Baker said the businesses that will be allowed to open initially will be industries that don’t have much close contact with customers, or organizations that can easily practice social distancing.
“I would love to be able to open everything up tomorrow; that would be an incredibly irresponsible thing to do,” said Baker.
As of Tuesday, there have been 79,332 total coronavirus cases and 5,141 deaths in Massachusetts.
“This is not a virus to be trifled with or disrespected, and I think it’s important for everybody to understand that,” said Baker, adding “The last thing we’re going to do is reopen it in a way that fires that virus up again.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also urged residents to be patient with the reopening plans.
“I want to temper expectations of what Monday will bring. We don’t move forward based on the date. We move forward based on data. This must be a gradual, phased in approach that depends on testing and hospital metrics reaching certain benchmarks and continues to move in the right direction,” said Walsh.
Like Baker, Walsh cautioned that reopening too soon could lead to setbacks.
“I want to warn people if we open too soon or we let down our guard, we could get spikes in cases faster,” said Walsh. “Then we would have to roll back all the work we are doing now with opening, and essentially starting over. That would be worse for our economy, and terrible for all the individuals here in Boston and the Commonwealth.”