By Ken MacLeod

BRAINTREE (CBS) – On the third day of Phase One of Massachusetts’s reopening, Gov. Charlie Baker put the spotlight on a local company that is open after a COVID-19 retooling of most workplace rules.

“There’s certainly no playbook for managing a business through a pandemic,” said Tim O’Keefe, the boss at Symmons Industries in Braintree, a third-generation plumbing hardware company looking to overcome its toughest challenge in 80 years – run a productive factory, warehouse and office under COVID-19 restrictions.

“The, sort of, physical closeness associated with work is clearly gonna change,” Baker said.

On Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker toured Symmons Industries, which reopened during Phase I. (WBZ-TV)

The 25 employees just rehired at Symmons are distanced, masked, and sometimes partitioned, on the job, amid hygiene and disinfecting protocols that are part of the “new normal” workflow.

“But not only have they accepted it, it’s almost like the true shining of humanity coming back out,” O’Keefe said. “They are like let’s go, let’s fight on.”

This Phase One success comes as most of the state’s COVID metrics build on three weeks of relatively steady improvement, and as many are still heeding the governor’s call to keep working remotely.

“Luckily, we’re going to still be working from home, even though the phases are telling us we can open back up,” said Sarah Quinn, of Framingham.

A new poll shows that the majority of Americans fear reopening might trigger a COVID rebound, and more than half are “very concerned” about it.

“Following these protocols, following this process is really important,” said Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito.

In Braintree, the mayor said he didn’t believe many violators would require heavy-handed enforcement.

“I believe and trust that these businesses will do what they are supposed to do, and, you know, there’s always going to be a few that don’t,” said Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros.

The governor said the daycares currently open for children of essential workers have 6,500 open slots, which is enough to cover parents returning to work under Phase One but probably not Phase Two.

Ken MacLeod

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