BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is urging businesses to keep employees working from home as much as possible even as the state begins to reopen.
“There are hundreds of companies and thousands of employees who are now successfully working remotely. As we start to transition to slowly reopening our economy, it’s become more and more critical for remote work to continue so that we can continue to fight COVID-19 and prevent the spread of infection,” Baker said Friday.
“Public health experts have made clear that large numbers of people in enclosed spaces is exactly how this virus spreads. That’s part of the reason why many of the general guidance that we put out there to businesses, as we go through this reopening process and the reopening advisory board, make absolutely clear that distance of work will be a fundamental requirement for everybody.”
Half of the executive branch has been working remotely since late March. “This week we extended our current policies with respect to remote work and working from home for the foreseeable future,” said Baker.
A number of large companies in the state have also committed to keeping at least 150,000 Massachusetts workers home. Blue Cross Blue Shield has 98% of its employees working from home for the foreseeable future. Half of all Raytheon employees are working from home. Wayfair, MassMutual, and Takeda were companies also mentioned by Baker that will have workers home for the foreseeable future.
Working from home protects employees who have to go into the office and results in fewer people being out in public, Baker said.
“The new rules for everybody associated with work in an office are going to require people to create distance. One way you create distance and make it work is by not having the same number of people show up in the same office as you did before, to the extent that companies can find ways to make remote work or work from home work, even if it’s only a few days a week and if they create a rotational process to involve that it makes it much easier for them to create the distance that they are required to pursue under the order that we are showing on Monday, to make it work for them and for their workers.”
The Reopening Advisory Board will be announcing their report on how to reopen the state’s economy Monday.
“I think it’s important for everybody to understand that as we go forward we’re going to be balancing the trade-offs, that are pretty obvious that are associated with public health, and people’s ability to work,” said Baker.
The governor also said the health care system’s ability to handle coronavirus has been “a really impressive story so far. But it doesn’t end until we get to the fall. And that means people need to take this thing seriously they need to respect it and they need to understand that. We got to find a way to help people get back to work. I think everybody knows that. And we got to do it in a way that we believe respects the virus to make sure that we don’t create a second outbreak.”
He also reminded residents: “It’s important to remember that we have plenty of things we can do in this fight against the virus. In fact, it’s pretty much the only way the Commonwealth can move forward and it will require everybody to continue to play their part. You’ve all heard me say this before, I’m going say it again, cover your face in public. Masks and face coverings can cut transmission down by as much as 80%.”