BOSTON (CBS) — A day after Gov. Charlie Baker released the state’s game plan for reopening economic and social activities sidelined by the pandemic, there’s still plenty of confusion about what it means. We fielded a few questions online and tracked down some answers.
The way the rules for places of worship are written, it sounds as though worship is OK but any other types of events (meetings, groups like Narcotics Anonymous) may still be off the table, is this true? — Dorothy via Twitter
It seems so. The “mandatory safety standards” posted on the state website prohibit any “communal gathering pre- or post- service,” but didn’t mention other, more secular activities common to houses of worship. But the governor’s press office clarified to WBZ-TV that the ban includes “AA meetings, etc.” So unless you’re there for a religious service, wedding, funeral or wake, it’s a prohibited activity use of the space for now.
How will restrictions, such as the 40% capacity at houses of worship, be enforced? – Phil via Facebook
It looks like they’re trying to strike a balance between persuasion and coercion. According to the plan, enforcement responsibility is shared by the state and local boards of health. It’s up to customers or employees to register complaints. They won’t be doing unprompted spot inspections.
Alleged offenders will be counseled verbally first. Then, if they don’t comply, they will be cited in writing about what they need to do to meet state standards for operation. If that doesn’t work, up to three rounds of potential fines of up to $300 kick in. After three strikes, the state can issue a cease and desist order.
The plan doesn’t mention weddings, so how should people be planning for summer or fall weddings? – Cappy via Twitter
It depends what sort of wedding venue you have in mind. Hotels are slated to reopen with restrictions in Phase 2, three weeks from now at the earliest, but the state is still mulling “additional guidance” beforehand. This means there is the potential for further delay.
Restaurants, bars and most other venues that might host a wedding seem slated for Phase 3 reopening, sometime during the summer. The state is encouraging any group activity that can move outdoors – where the risk of spreading the virus is much lower – to do so, and that might be your best bet. I can tell you one thing for sure – you’ll find plenty of vendors eager to bid on handling your event.